My brilliant friend Mary Tedrow posted this piece over on Teacher Magazine. It is a must read.
Senior Year: A Teenage Wasteland
In 2001, the U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley called the high school senior year a "wasteland." In 2005, researchers concluded that the majority of high school students were not challenged during their senior year in reading, writing, or math. To many teachers who work with high school seniors, these findings ring true. They best apply to the wide swath of "average" students who travel the featureless landscape called senior year. Teacher Magazine, 8/1/07 (free registration required)
To give you a taste of why the free registration is worth it, here is a piece from the article as Mary describes what the senior year *could* be...
I would go a large step further and treat the senior year as a unique capstone experience. By eliminating strict scheduling, a team of teachers and counselors could shepherd seniors through a meaningful transition. Students could work with teachers to design a schedule that would include coursework, apprenticeships, and community activities. Seniors could also accept ownership in the school community by participating in tutoring, student courts, in-house television and radio programs, designing and writing school publications, maintaining websites, or even helping interview prospective teachers. In short, let kids test the waters. Let them make decisions in close mentorship with adults.
I say-- YES. And let's take it a step further. Let's imagine the entire school experience being that meaningful. Why stop at one year?
Mary Tedrow, a National Board-certified teacher, has taught high school English and Journalism for 17 years. In the fall she will begin teaching juniors at John Handley High School in Winchester, VA.