Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How Early is Too Early?

This week is Red Ribbon week. We tell the kids to say "no" to drugs and give them bookmarks and elastic bracelets to remind them of the word "no."

There's nothing like a kindergartner or first grader asking, "what are drugs?"

I get the idea of planting the seed early and conditioning kids to make good choices when the time comes, but sometimes I think it's too much too soon. They're still trying to figure out the right direction to draw the number 7, and we're telling them about drugs.

College is the other big one for me. One school I work at has each classroom themed like a university. Usually, the one the residing teacher attended. Each room has a bulletin board in the school colors with a banner, streamers, etc. Another elementary school has a line about attending college within their school pledge that they recite after the Pledge of Allegiance.

This is another message I think we might be drilling in with too much enthusiasm. I get that dropout rates are bad, and that we want kids to finish high school and be eligible for college. I also get that the job market 0pens up substantially for those with a college degree, but truthfully, college isn't for everyone. There are many worthy trades where a degree is not necessary. Why are we obsessed with this message? And are we filling young heads with information that only confuses them and adds to the stresses they already face on a daily basis when we give them these broad instructions on how to deal with situations they're not going to face for many years, if at all?

1 comment:

  1. This is a trend I've seen as well. In our district, teachers do a lot to encourage students to go to college. Some schools even have mottos or chants that include "We will go to college!" and things along those lines.

    I'm not sure how I feel about it. I understand your point, but I can't foresee any harm can be done in drilling college into their heads very early. I never took for granted that I was expected to attend and complete college. Many people don't come from that type of background. It would do them good to hear good things about college and putting that expectation before them. Even if they don't attend, they will at least be resolute about completing high school and doing SOMETHING productive, so I think it may be a good thing.

    And a few weeks ago, a counselor came into the kindergarten class I was subbing to talk to them about drugs. She asked, "Does anyone know what drugs are?" None of them did. I thought, "Oh no! There goes a little bit of their innocence!" as she described what they were.