I’m not an educational expert, but a recent bill passed by the Florida House seems like a bad idea:
The Florida House passed a bill on Thursday that would make the state the first to require high school students to declare a major, just as college students do.
Mr. Bush and others say that requiring high school students to declare a major and concentrate on a particular field could prepare them better for college and the working world and reduce the dropout rate.
Opponents say the requirement would put too much pressure on students about their future. But supporters hope the state’s dropout rate will fall and classroom achievement will rise if students can concentrate on subjects they enjoy. Majors could include basics like English and math or vocational fields like carpentry and auto repair.
I think this bill could be a bad idea, for several reasons. First of all, many college students switch majors multiple times and most high schoolers are completely clueless about what career they want to pursue. Indeed, most adults switch careers multiple times during their life. How much benefit can there possibly be in forcing someone to specialize so early in life?
Secondly, I think high school needs to continue to teach students about a wide variety of subjects. From what I remember, middle school classes focused on reading, writing, ‘rithmetic, a little history, and a little science. I’m firmly of the opinion that high school students should be exposed to philosophy, economics, ethics, logic, and rhetoric. Not every student will end up attending college. With that in mind, I believe that high school should provide at least a rudimentary understanding of how the world works and how to think about the world.
I think restricting high school to a narrow, student-chosen list of classes would inhibit true learning and development. It may lower the drop-out rate, but at what price?