Disclaimer #1- I writes what I thinks. I am formally trained as a teacher, a labor doula, and whatever you want to call someone who on a daily basis springs out of bed, attaches a cape, and spends the next 18 wakeful hours lactating/ cleaning/ changing diapers/ tormenting the dog/ fielding the press/ budgeting/ cooking/ summoning Captain Planet/ singing invented songs to the baby and dog/ and trying to boss other people around. Mainly my siblings. Who now ignore me. Where was I going with this? Oh yeah- do not quote me for any sort of term papers or medical journals- I do not have a $30,000 piece of paper that says I can officially philosophize. I do, however, have a $30,000 piece of paper that says I can give standardized tests to children, but will be sued to within an inch of my life if I give them a hug.
Disclaimer #2- While I no longer have the energy driven by the radio discussion from the previous morning, I do have the energy produced by the contempt I feel after watching A&E last night on mute with closed captioning- primarily to have a little light to see what I was doing to feed Bambina. A&E was airing some sort of show that follows around meter maids. Are they called meter maids? Meter officers? At any rate, this show and this show alone makes me weep and wail and gnash my teeth and cover my body with ashes. I live in utter fear now, knowing these yahoos are driving about.
Disclaimer #3- I may ramble. Bambina-lina is asleep, but I still need to rush, as she may wake up at any moment.
Where, oh where, oh where can I continue this line of thought? I'm not going to touch the industry issues surrounding production and importation and the arrogance in presuming that the USA can actually (snort) be the leader (Oh lordy, can I even say it) of the (chuckle) "knowledge industry." When the Math Regents passing grade in NY State is 55%... nope. Not going to go there. None of us have the time.
Farming? Nah. Another day, I will rant about genetic engineering (and as a Biology minor who actually did take classes involving this, I am slightly more prepared) and we can all talk about the issues involving the many many MANY problems with the quality of our food, the quantity of fake food that is killing so many, and the pharm industry and kookalooka crapazoid surrounding the hilariousness that is ethanol.
I think I will take this in a slightly more personal direction, and loop off of the "Almanzo" dilemma. What do we do with him? Even more importantly- it is significant that Almanzo is a "him." Males are having an outstandingly difficult time in this current era of college education. This is not just me spouting off- this is something that all corners of the educational world are finally admitting to. While we've greatly enhanced the learning opportunities for girls, we've gone right ahead and committed the crime of "robbing Peter to pay Paul" in the sense that we've had a deleterious effect on boys instead of merely enhancing the girls. As such, we have a nation chock-full of very confused young men. Now, not all young men are confused- some are successful, and feel that they've found their place and are fitting quite well. The amount of young men who finish high school and suddenly feel as though they've fallen through a trap-door into some kind of limbo where they have no place is staggering. Where my grandfather and his peers could easily leave high school and find employment in line work that would feed and clothe and house their families, their grandchildren are finding themselves at a stand-still.
Let's look at some high school graduates. Let's sort these high school grads into four categories:
Cat A- Are "college material," desire a college education, and understand their strengths and interests;
Cat B- Are "college material," do not necessarily desire a college education, and understand their strengths;
Cat C- Are not "college material," do, however, desire a college education, understand their interests and strengths;
Cat D- Are not "college material," do not desire a college education, and still understand their strengths and interests.
Cat. A is all set. They fit the criteria for entering college, and make it happen. Go them.
Cat. C is also all set. While they do not fit the criteria for entering college, they can still use their money or find the federal or state or private funding to get them there. At college, they will find something that interests them enough to limp along until graduation. After which, it will not matter- they have the degree, and can join the rest of the mooing crowd into the workforce.
Almanzo, from my sixth grade class, is Cat. B. He can certainly get into college with his grades. He will almost certainly be heavily encouraged by his school to apply for grants and loans and college applications, as college is the Thing To Do, whether he likes it or not.
As for Cat. D- we'll call this individual "Boog," after someone who was in my graduating class. This unfortunately-monikered boy was somehow still enrolled in high school when I was hired, two years into my bachelor's degree, to substitute teach at my old high school. Talk about awkward. At the time of my subbing, he was about to be aged out of the high school program anyway. He just did not have the grades, nor the desire for the grades or any other post-secondary education.
Almanzo and Boog. Boog and Almanzo. What do we do with you two? How can you enter adulthood successfully and perhaps enjoy a family as well? Importantly- who defines what "success" looks like?
Probably, if they both work hard, they can manage. It will be without the accoutrements, for sure- Buffalo Bills tickets will not be just a credit card swipe away, unless they want to spend the rest of their lives buried in debt (which a great proportion will end up doing, if you believe the money reports). Their spouses will probably have to work, whether they want to or not. Where do they fit along this "knowledge industry," though? How will the rest of the world view them- and how will they be trained to view themselves?
When we, as teachers, support the mindset that college is THE means to an end, rather than one way we can achieve our goals, where does that send the non-college crowd? When we make college abundantly accessible- what does this do for the people who do desire an ongoing education? What happens when lecture halls are filled with a mix of people who want to be there, and people who don't feel they have a choice? As our country increasingly mixes and mingles with the rest of the globe, what does this sort of graduating class do for us?