I hated high school. With a passion. So, by sophomore year I'd worked the system in such a way that I could leave campus every day before lunch. I spent the afternoons working at a hair salon (earning work-study credits) and nights taking classes at the community college. But it wasn't enough. I wanted OUT so I doubled up on classes, took summer courses, weekend intensive workshops and managed to graduate a semester early.
Finally free of high school I hopped on a plane and moved across the country to New York City. I was seventeen.
In his article "Class Dismissed," Walter Kirn posits that we should do away with the 12th grade entirely because it's become a "year of licensed irresponsibility." Is it true? I wasn't really there... Perhaps it would be best to offer students a choice the summer before senior year. Or ...
Could we possibly require a mandatory year of service before entry to college? Imagine hoards of 17-year-olds volunteering at elementary school, hospitals, farms (see "Plow Shares" - same issue NY Times Magazine), convalescent homes, and appropriate non profit organizations around the country. Can you imagine entering college after spending a year discovering how your actions help a person, community or even the world? Would this experience have changed the directions taken in university? Would NOT going to college become a viable option leading to long term, valuable, working posts? Would apprenticeships come back into vogue?
I kind of love the idea. What do you think?