October 24, 2008
Mrs. M Howe
Are High Schools Ineffective?
A Response to Leon Botstein
All people have a horror story, a story that they don’t want to have retold and sometimes never want to think or hear about again. Most of these stories deal with a time period in a school setting and most of those are about something that happened to them in high school. These stories are why most students are not suited for a high school environment the way it is situated now but they have to deal with it until something is done to change things. Leon Botstein explained most of this from his perspective as the President of Bard College and as the author of Jefferson’s Children: Education and the Promise of American Culture. The article called “Let Teenagers Try Adulthood” first appeared in the Op/Ed section of the New York Times in 1999 after the Littleton (Columbine) shootings. Botstein writes that the categories of insiders and outsiders that are so popular in today’s high schools are shaped the way they are because there are damaging cliques that hold sway because of superficial definitions of attractiveness, popularity, and sports prowess. He points out that when student’s graduate high school and go on to college they finally understand what opportunities they missed and how much time is lost (21). Botstein writes that high schools as they are now are obsolete because they were made as a place to help young adults mature but that is not happening anymore because they grow up faster now than they did when high schools were made. Botstein points out that adults should realize that just because they don’t like dealing with young adults doesn’t meant adults should isolate teenagers that are growing up physically and hormonally in a high school setting to hide them from the real world. Given the poor quality of teachers and school administrators, who are more often chosen because they were coaches before, this means that when...
Cited: Botstein, Leon. “Let Teenagers Try Adulthood” New York Times 17 May 1999, Op-Ed. Rpt. In “Additional Readings.” The Little, Brown Compact Handbook with Exercises. Jane E. Aaron. 6th ed. New York: Longman, 2007
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