Last week Ava had to choose which elective classes she would take next year in 7th grade. This is an important time in her education. She gets to pick the topics that most interest her and guide her towards her future goals. Daughter and Dad both went to an overview of all the elective options at her school to be fully informed on the available options.
The Elective Classes
The elective ballot included the following classes:
- Computer Science
- Family and Consumer Science (FACS)
- Project Lead The Way (PLTW)
In addition to the above classes, the school offers BOCA options: which are band, orchestra, chorus and academic assistance. Ava already plays violin in the orchestra and will continue next year.
On the importance of picking elective classes in middle school.
Ava told me which classes she wanted to take before we went to the school overview. I wondered if she had really thought through the options the way she should. I love art and think it is great for expanding your mind. Computer science touches us all and will continue to grow in importance. The language skills are all helpful. Project Lead The Way, an engineering course, is pretty awesome. Plus, as a female Ava would have special opportunities because women are so underrepresented in the field. She might even get her own private women’s bathroom at work. #bonus
I thought Spanish was the most useful foreign language, based on the number of Spanish speakers in America and our proximity to other Spanish speakers throughout the Americas. Plus, it would help her order for me when we go to nice Mexican restaurants, like Taco Bell. My other picks would have been between Computer Science and PLTW. I don’t think you can go wrong with either of those. Because nerds rule the world.
But the biggest takeaway from this process is that the kids don’t get to pick nearly as many elective classes as I wish they could. We are most engaged, and study the hardest in coursework that interests us the most. If I could reinvent the education system I would shift the balance of required and elective classes, allowing kids to construct their own, personalized educational path.
I’m so exited for next year and getting to carry out my elective choices. I’ve noticed though that most of the kids in my grade want to do Spanish and FACS (Family And Consumer Science). Now I understand Spanish. I also want to do that next year because I think it will be a great asset for later in life. But FACS? Let me explain, and I’m not trying to say FACS is bad or anything. It’s just something that I would choose last.
In FACS you learn to make cupcakes, soups, etc. and other housework like sewing. This sounds like a good idea, but it sends a disguised message to young children, especially the girls. FACS teaches you the lessons for a regular home life. These related arts are supposed to prepare you for jobs in your future. Hate to break it to you FACS, but teaching kids the skills to be a housewife is not a job people need more of. This teaches kids, mostly girls, that they are supposed to grow up to be housewives and nothing more. Unfortunately the kids in my grade don’t notice this. When they think of the FACS they think, “yay, eating cupcakes in school!”
While about 2/3’s of the grade is taking FACS, next year I will be taking PLTW, the engineering course. Learning to become an engineer will help me get great, well-paying jobs that will likely affect our future. But not a lot of people are choosing these jobs because they’re swayed into being more qualified for things like housewives at such young ages.
I once heard on one of my dad’s audio books that you shouldn’t think, “Aww, Monday,” or, “Yay, Friday,” because you shouldn’t want to stop working. I truly believe that being unqualified for things you really want to do later in life starts with kids wanting to take the easier elective now.
What would you pick? What did you pick? If you are reading this you have either faced this issue yourself or you will. Which of these electives stand out to you? Leave your thoughts in the feedback section. And if you would like to be participate in more of these conversations please subscribe to this blog.