AP Courses vs. Character Building?

A Note From the LA Teen Therapist & Life Coach

A college education has become the norm to strive for in many American families. – Sandra

Does our educational system need to be revamped?

Parents pour money into private schools in an attempt to give their child the cutting edge. Teens load up on AP courses to compete for places in the college of their choice. Yet, young graduates, diplomas in hand, commonly struggle to find the job of their dreams after college.

Do we need to consider the possibility that not all children would benefit from college, and offer them viable alternatives in the form of trade and technical schools? Instead of simply loading on more coursework, setting standards that leave adolescents feeling depressed and overcommitted, perhaps its time to consider some other approaches to preparing our youth to become productive members of society.

“Grades Matter, But…”

According to Sheldon Horrowitz, Ed.D. “Grades alone cannot capture the breadth and depth of what a child has learned, how they have personalized their knowledge in ways that better prepare them for post-secondary education or the workplace – or whether they are prepared to be confident and contributing members of society.” In his article “Grades matter, but…” he illuminates the fact that the challenge for children with learning difficulties is to “exit high school undefeated by repeated hurtles” – as they struggle to meet the requirements of testing and grading.

As a therapist for teenagers, I often hear how parents and their children wait with baited breath for the weekly online assessment of the child’s test and homework scores. The whole thrust has become one of obsession with grades. Teenagers, on the average spend around 7 hours in school and another 2 to 3 hours of homework. This does not include the extracurricular activities that college bound students participate in to enhance their college application. This type of schedule literally fills a child’s day from breakfast until bedtime, with no downtime for self-reflection or regeneration.

I leave you with this question: If teens were feeling more peaceful and fulfilled in their academic experience, would substance abuse, bullying and self-harm diminish?

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