Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Author Recommends Students Design Their Own Curricula

In a New York Times (3/15) op-ed, author Susan Engel writes that President Obama's comments last week that "it was unacceptable that 'as many as a quarter of American students are not finishing high school'" miss the point that "our current educational approach doesn't just fail to prepare teenagers for graduation or for college academics; it fails to prepare them, in a profound way, for adult life. We want young people to become independent and capable, yet we structure their days to the minute and give them few opportunities to do anything but answer multiple-choice questions, follow instructions and memorize information." Engel argues that this failing calls for a reexamination of "the very nature of high school itself" and recommends programs in which students design their own curricula with adult supervision. Such programs "might not be exactly alike," but "participants will end up more accomplished, more engaged and more knowledgeable than they would have been taking regular courses."

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