Yesterday I was involved in another interesting conversation about what student should know. The conversation unfortunately centered on K-12 preparing students for college and/or further work in mathematics and science. I say unfortunately because it is my opinion that by grade 12 all students should be fully prepare for a wide array of choices that life might bring – only one of those choices might be college. That fact is that is that 94% of high school students say they want to attend college, 75% actually do within two years of high school graduation, 67% immediately upon graduation. The back side of these numbers indicates that this may not be the best choice for most students. Of students who begin high school, fewer than 30% will have a baccalaureate degree twelve years later, while 20% will not have finished high school.
Doing more work in mathematics and science is the work of the University and preparation for research careers is the focus of the Graduate Studies. We tend to think myopically of what students need from K-12 education to be prepared for us. I guess that the question that comes to my mind is what we are preparing these students to face upon their graduation, two or three years in their future.