Thursday, October 7, 2010

It gets better

It's Thursday so it must be time for me to swoon over Tim Gunn yet again. Well, I can't help it. Not when he does things like this:

I hope you've all heard about the "It gets better" project, sponsored by Dan Savage in wake of the numerous suicides of youth in the past month. Gays and lesbians from all walks of life have been invited to make videos to reach out to youth, sharing their experience and saying, yes, life does get better.

But it does raise the question: why is life so bad in high school? Surely it doesn't have to be that way. What do you think could be done to make high school a better place for young people to be?

1 comment:

Art Deco said...

How does promoting the verbiage of Dan Savage fit into Christian ministry?

You might ask the question why 90% of our youth are enrolled in schools run by state agencies whose disciplinary discretion is constrained not only by the shticks of the teachers' colleges but by a web of case law and political pressure.

Re-incorporate your public schools as philanthropic agencies governed by trustees elected by resident alumni; fund all primary and secondary schools with vouchers, donations, and endowment income (not tuition); make use of mandatory regents' examinations for quality control, revoke the charters of the 2% of schools who perform the worst on state league tables; grant schools plenary authority over their disciplinary practices and curriculum; and shut the state teachers' colleges. There is a limit to which it is at all prudent for the adult world to regulate human relations among the young, but at least the administrators could chuck the hoodlums out on the street without being second-guessed downtown or in court.

You might also ask why we have the secondary schools we do. Why not rely on primary schools for instruction in basics (reading and English grammar, arithmetic, elementary algebra, and the fundamentals of American history and geography and civics)? Secondary schools would be devoted to serious instruction in vocational subjects more like a community college or trade school. A minority who chose could for a interim period attend secondary schools devoted to academics 'ere entering trade school or attempt a comprehensive program in the liberal arts.

What we have now is half-assed instruction in liberal arts (among a population with scant interest in that) in institutions which concentrate adolescents in four figure masses. Harry Truman completed high school in 1902. At the time, it was an optional exercise for academically inclined (and largely bourgeois) youth; his brother left school at 12. Adolescents should be apprenticed to their elders and learning the serious business of life, not parked with each other in holding pens (whose residents then engage in cheap competition over status markers).

As for the subjective sense of discontent that people with various problems have (sexual problem being the most abiding), alleviating that is not a function of the state.