Making high school more exciting won’t help potential dropouts, educator says

Oct 8, 2013 by

By Jay Mathews –

I did not like my college composition instructor. But she was wise about what I needed to learn and she did me much good. Professors who have that exhausting assignment must be a special breed.

Leave it to another college comp teacher to write a short essay that clarifies, better than anything I have read, the disconnect between high school and college that not only troubled me as a student but is still poisoning American secondary schools.

The essay, “Boredom’s Paradox,” was buried on a back page of a recent Education Week. The author was Mark Bauerlein, an English professor at Emory University in Atlanta who is so well known, I was surprised to learn that he taught freshman comp. I always thought that was scut work reserved for graduate students. Bauerlein analyzed why teenagers drop out, with a twist that made much of what I have read about how to improve high schools seem inane and counterproductive.

He cited a 2006 study by the public policy firm Civic Enterprises that found 47 percent of high school dropouts thought their classes were boring, and 69 percent said school did not motivate or inspire them. Most believed they could handle the work, but didn’t want to. He said the 2010 High School Survey of Student Engagement found 66 percent of students were bored “at least every day.” Their biggest complaint was the uninteresting and irrelevant material they had to learn.

via Making high school more exciting won’t help potential dropouts, educator says – The Washington Post.

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