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Monday, February 07, 2005

"Not everyone is cut out for college."

There's been a debate in these parts (as always) about funding priorities in the high schools. Among all the programs that have suffered deep cuts are vocational classes, and, in the context of arguing that some of these programs ought to be better funded, it was claimed that such programs are important because not everyone is cut out for college.

Something about the assumptions underlying this claim just doesn't sit right with me. A big part of it, I think, is the idea that anyone could possibly know, at age 14, what one really wants to do with one's life, let alone whether it would require a college education to do it. I'm not denying that some high school graduates don't have study skills or motivation together enough to succeed in college courses without a big struggle. But somehow, in these discussions of funding voc-ed, the world is described as high schoolers headed for college right away and high schoolers headed to college never.

The other part of the assumption that bugs me, I think, is that college is only valuable as a prepartion for certain sorts of profession -- that college would be a collosal waste for someone who's going to fix cars for a living. But, dammit, the point of college ISN'T to train you for a job; it's to train you for life. And I don't think there's any reason to believe that the car mechanic wouldn't need (or want) tools for leading an examined and meaningful life just as much as the lawyer or the teacher or the doctor would.

(Besides, everyone ought to learn something about how to fix his car!)

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