Paul C. Williams

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Teenage is an intimidating time

My daughter Hannah pictured here is currently in 8th grade. As we tour high schools looking at the different programs that are offered, I can't help but feel intimidated. Of course, she's too cool to be intimidated by such things -- she just wants to make sure her friends are in the same school.

There's a lot of focus on the programs that prepare kids for college, and all the work and activities that kids will be expected to participate in to qualify for these programs. Nearly all programs are engineering-oriented.

At a time in which we lament grade inflation at schools like Harvard, there is ongoing scandal at secondary schools regarding the standardized testing, and a constant fear that American colleges aren't preparing students for the work world, I have to say I am amazed at how much energy is put in to designing compelling-looking programs. One would think that with all this energy invested in these programs that there would be less of a problem with our education system.

One program commonly implemented in our area is the International Baccalaureate (IB). This program claims to be the most rigorous liberal arts program in the country, focusing on well rounded students ready to enter into the most prestigious schools in the country.

And, I have to say, based on the presentations and interviews with the IB students, it seems an impressive program. But with a stated 5 hours of homework nightly, as well as a requirement for sport and community service and the highest academic standards at any given school, this program sure feels scary to me, and I'm not even in it.

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