In over 1,200 schools across the country, students are required to pick a major or area of interest. The Christian Science Monitor reports on two different approaches schools take and the criticism levied against the concept.
Some schools have an exhaustive list of specific majors — 443 in the case of Florida schools — mapping to particular jobs. These include fashion, agricultural machinery mechanics, ceramics, and health.
“This is a colossally bad idea,” says Debra Humphreys with The Association of American Colleges and Universities. “I think the motivation behind the program is to get students more engaged with their work, and that’s perfectly legitimate…. But businesses are telling us that the jobs that today’s ninth-graders will eventually have don’t even exist yet and that the specific training needed for technical professions is changing rapidly.”
On the other hand, Brighton High School in Massachusetts has five school-to-college-to-career pathways like law, health, and business and technology.
Dr. Humphreys lauds creating learning communities and broad career clusters like the program at Brighton.
And it is hard to argue with the results at Brighton:
Since the pathways were implemented in 1998, the school has seen an increase in the percentage of its students that pass a state-wide exam, from 10 percent to 75 percent. Two-thirds of Brighton students go on to two- or four-year colleges.
In some countries, declaring a major early is the norm. Do you think this is a good idea?