What's Wrong with High School?

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
- Mark Twain

In many countries high school either forms part of the compulsory education system or is a requirement to enter college or get any kind of employment other than the most unskilled menial work.

High school appears to serve two functions. Firstly to provide an introductory broad-based academic education across a range of subjects. And secondly to prepare students to function as successful citizens, able both to provide for themselves and their future families, and to be positive members of society.

So far, so good - however the problem is that, for the great majority of high schools, there seems little difference between one school and another. Furthermore, each school provides a very similar learning experience to every student that seems to vary little in response to their widely differing characteristics. My daughter started high school a couple of years back, and to help her choose school we visited numerous open days. Each time I found that the schools had changed so little from my own high school days it was like experiencing deja vu.

Personally I have a passion for learning, I have completed two degrees and am currently hooked on MOOCs. You might think high school was a particulalry happy experience for me, but this couldn't be further from the truth. I absolutely hated my school days and dropped out at the earliest possible opportunity. If I found school such an unpleasant experience, how many others is the current system is failing?

In short:

  • There needs to be more variation between schools, each school should be based around its own unique philosophy, with none right or wrong, but together offering genuine choice to students.
  • There needs to be more recognition of individuality among students with every student receiving the learning experience to best enable them to fulfill their unique potential.
  • I'd like to think that through the application of technology OpenHigh might go some way to addressing these concerns.

The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.
- Plutarch