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Leon Botstein’s “Let Teenagers Try Adulthood” talks about how high schools are obsolete and why they should be abolished. He feels that schools are run like a popularity contest and that high school is a waste of time. Botstein goes on to say that how well a school does in teams sports is how well the community will support that school. He also believes that high schools should be abolished since children don’t learn anything and the rules they play by in school are not the same rules of life. Botstein also thinks that since teenagers are maturing at earlier ages that they should be allowed to make adult decisions at earlier ages as will. According to Botstein, junior high schools should be removed and replaced with a K-10 school and the graduation age of 18 should be dropped to 16. Botstein states “At 16, young Americans are prepared to be taken seriously and to develop the motivations and interests that will serve them well in adult life.” (Botstein, 2007)Leon Botstein made some good points as to why high schools should be abolished, but getting rid of high schools is not the answer. He neglects to say that high schools are there to help teenagers develop the skills they need to succeed in life.
The American high school needs to make a couple of changes to be more effective in helping teenagers develop the skills to succeed in life. The school system should try to implement a little more diversity in the school. Like Botstein said “they need to enter a world where they are not in a lunchroom with only their peers.” (Botstein, 2007)Schools should make it a graduation requirement that all students take a class on leadership and how to handle work when they are under pressure. These types of classes will help prepare them for situations they will encounter in life. It is important that we prepare these teenagers for leadership roles. Although some might say that these skills are learned through the work force it is better to prepare them for the future rather than let them fail. Another skill that teenagers will need in life that is developed in high school is their communication skills. In high school all teenagers do is communicate with each other. Even though Botstein does not believe that missing this social interaction would matter, it really does. In life everyone needs some sort of social interaction.
When someone applies for a job they need to be able to talk to the employer, they need to be able to communicate instructions to others. These communication skills are all learned while students and teenagers are in high school. If high schools are removed from our society, many people will not be learning important skills and they will not be able to have a successful life. If two years of high school is cut think of the impact it would have on society. We would be sending teenagers out into the world who are not ready for it. The classes that are taken in junior high and high school are important to everyone. While in junior high and high school the students are learning how to fine tune their skills they need to be able to go out into the world and succeed. Without these schools students would not develop the skill they need to be able to make deadlines, how to use their time wisely to be more efficient. Sure these things can be learned in the workforce, but wouldn’t you want to hire someone who was already prepared instead of spending the extra money to train them.
When Botstein talks about the problem with the high school system is the poor quality of recruitment and training for high school teacher he is absolutely correct. He fails to talk about why it is this way. As Americans we don’t put enough money into our education system. The money that we spend on professional athletes could be used to better prepare our teachers. Some teachers feel that they shouldn’t work hard because they are not getting paid enough to do their job correctly. You find better quality teachers in colleges because the pay is better. College professors are getting paid between 20,000 – 40,000 more than high school teachers. We as Americans need to re-evaluate our budget and put more money into our school system so that we can get the kind of teachers we know out teenagers really deserve. Botstein states that “ adults should face that fact that they don’t like adolescents and that they have used high school to isolate the pubescent and hormonally active adolescent away from both the picture-book idealized innocence of childhood and the more accountable would of adulthood.” (Botstein, 2007) That is definitely not the case; we might dislike some adolescents but not all.
There are some adults who do not know how to handle the changes that these adolescents are going throw, but isolating them is not the answer. We as adults need to find a way to educate these adolescents as well as their parents about these changes and how to deal with them. If we can find a way to implement this in the high school program than abolishing high school wouldn’t be an option to fixing the problem. We as Americans need to stop thinking about a quick solution to a problem and starting thinking about long term solutions that will actually work. If we decide to remove high school from our society and allow adolescents to graduate at the age of 16 instead of 18 we will be destroying our society. Sure adolescents mature at an early age, but do you really think they are ready to make adult decisions at the age of 16. At that age their bodies are still going through changes and they are still learning how to become an adult.
They last two years of high school are important and it helps teenagers to prepare for what is in stored for them. Maybe one day we would be ready to have teenagers graduate early, but there are still too many problems in our school system to have that happen. We need to focus on fixing the problem within our education system instead of getting rid of high schools. High school is there to fine tune the necessary skills we need to succeed in life without them most people would not be where they are today. Although Botstein made some good points about high school and the way our society deals with teenagers, we need to put all of our energy in changing the high school system instead of just abolishing it.
Botstein, L. (2007). Let Teenagers Try Adulthood. In B. Spatt, Writing from Sources (pp. 175-177). Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s.