So my oldest kid comes home from school Monday and tells me he’s figuring out what classes he’s going to take next year, his sophomore year in high school.
“My biology teacher’s going to recommend me for regular chemistry,” he said, shoving a forkful of food into his mouth.
This year he took pre-AP biology, and he hates it. But he’s always liked the physical sciences, like chemistry and physics. “Why doesn’t she think you should take the more challenging section of chemistry?” I asked.
“Because,” he said, mouth full of food, “she asked me what I want to be when I grow up. I told her a teacher. So she said I didn’t need to take the hard science class.”
What?!? What kind of back-ass reason is that? Coming from a SCIENCE teacher, one who’s actually teaching an advanced science class?
Now, granted, I’m getting this information from a 14-year-old who’d rather play football in the front yard than study biology. But he pulled a B in the weighted class last semester, so I’m sure he could handle pre-AP chemistry.
OK, I need to get more information before I blow a gasket.
But here’s the deal – who asks a 14-year-old what he wants to be when he grows up and bases his academic advisement on that? Last year, the kid wanted to work at NASA. Not so very long ago, his career goals included professional baseball player and construction worker in the off-season.
So yeah, this month he wants to be a teacher. But dig deeper, biology woman. Ask him what kind of teacher, and he’ll tell you he wants to teach social studies. Yes, he loves history, but more importantly, he thinks you have to teach social studies to be able to coach.
And furthermore, just because he wants to be a teacher certainly does not mean he shouldn’t take the most challenging courses he can. Does it? Was that this teacher’s chosen academic path? Does she think that those who can do, and those who can’t teach?
Before you trash me for criticizing a teacher, know this: I come from a long line of teachers. My parents, my dad’s parents, one great-grandmother and a great-great-grandfather were teachers. I’m on their side, believe me.
Still, that doesn’t mean every one is a good one. And I think this woman’s advice sucks.
I ended up a journalist. Did I take pansy courses in high school and college because I didn’t need to know how to do anything but spell and type? Heck, no. My teacher parents made me take four years of high school math, including calculus. I took physics and chemistry. I took a humanities course in high school and art history in college.
Do I use any of them directly in my career? No. But did studying them make me a more complete human being? Definitely.
So tonight, as my kid and I were preparing to go to a curriculum information night at the high school, I asked again about the science. He said he wanted to take general chemistry, not the advanced class.
“Why?” I pressed. “You’ve always liked science.”
“It’s not in my career path,” he said.
Give me a freaking break.