Author Topic: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...  (Read 1689 times)

Just Joe

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So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« on: January 14, 2020, 01:42:40 PM »
We're having trouble answering this question lately.

Our teen is suffering from some depression and anxiety. We tried counseling but an uncooperative teen doesn't get much from sessions no matter how good the counselor is.

We're moving up the ladder to more help.

Meanwhile, teen doesn't want to go to school. Isn't being bullied as far as we can tell but teen has no close friends. Teen has isolated themselves somewhat b/c they simply aren't mainstream in their appearance or interests. Just a different kind of kid. Doesn't hang with the girls or the boys very easily.

Tried homeschooling but teen made zero efforts to get any work done. Like didn't crack a single book. Tried alternate school in the district, lasted two weeks before begging to return to home schooling. Currently in the original school. This has been an eight month roller coaster.

The question "what is the point of school" is the one I can't seem to answer. DW and I like to learn. We both wanted to go to college and knew we needed to do the middle and high school years to get admission to university.

We have met adults who were not educated - and who could neither read nor spell even. What a burden in the modern world for them. However our teen can do all the basics.

Curious what you would say to that question about school...

Edited slightly for content
« Last Edit: January 14, 2020, 02:43:00 PM by Just Joe »

YttriumNitrate

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2020, 02:08:19 PM »
In my opinion, high school is primarily about credentialing and sorting of people. Some new things are learned, and then mostly forgotten.

PDXTabs

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2020, 02:11:52 PM »
How old? If they are old enough for community college they might like it a lot better. Also, they might be able to walk into the GED and pass without studying (my brother did). While this might not seem ideal a bad public school experience can be really damning, in my experience.

I know an "unschooled" kid that taught themselves highschool math in 3 months because they wanted to go to college. It's amazing what actual focus and motivation can do.

EDIT - but to answer their question: school is to make you a more informed citizen and increase your financial earnings.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2020, 02:14:52 PM by PDXTabs »

jrhampt

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2020, 02:12:49 PM »
I learned how to write persuasively and analytically in high school, which above anything else is an indispensable skill I have used over the past decades both in academia (college/grad school) and in my career.  Math was an important secondary skill.  Iím a statistician, and I work from home.  Ideally, school prepares you for a good job so that you can have more freedom (and money) and escape many dead-end futures.  I was home schooled until 5th grade but always pretty self motivated and introverted (which is why working remotely is such a good fit for me).  I like learning for its own sake, too, but nothing is more motivating than some good up close examples of what can easily happen to your life if you drop out and donít have some alternate plan (like starting a business).  I had several of those examples.  The opportunity for education is a huge gift, like the ability to exercise.  You can either treat it as a chore or be incredibly grateful for it, but Iím not sure how you flip that perspective without learning by example or learning the hard way.

Aegishjalmur

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2020, 02:15:32 PM »
Are they more interested in hands on stuff? If so, is there a vocational school nearby they could enroll in? If they don't see the point in school, they may see the point in learning a skill, especially if they enjoy it. Welders, auto mechanics, plumbers, and electricians are all viable careers.

GuitarStv

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2020, 02:26:55 PM »
School is about showing that you meet certain minimum educational requirements and about proving that you will bow to authority figures as defined by our society.

Psychstache

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2020, 02:34:50 PM »
We're having trouble answering this question lately.

Our teen is suffering from some depression and anxiety. We tried counseling but an uncooperative teen doesn't get much from sessions no matter how good the counselor is.

We're moving up the ladder to more help.

Meanwhile, teen doesn't want to go to school. Isn't being bullied as far as we can tell but teen has no close friends. Teen has isolated themselves somewhat b/c they simply aren't mainstream in their appearance, might be bi-sexual (teen is still figuring that out). Just a different kind of kid. Can't hang with the girls or the boys very easily.

Tried homeschooling but teen made zero efforts to get any work done. Like didn't crack a single book. Tried alternate school in the district, lasted two weeks before begging to return to home schooling. Currently in the original school. This has been an eight month roller coaster.

The question "what is the point of school" is the one I can't seem to answer. DW and I like to learn. We both wanted to go to college and knew we needed to do the middle and high school years to get admission to university.

We have met adults who were not educated - and who could neither read nor spell even. What a burden in the modern world for them. However our teen can do all the basics.

Curious what you would say to that question about school...

I have a lot of thoughts on the question, but you have more pressing issues. Keep working on addressing the depression. Look for opportunities for your chid to find their 'tribe' (a community that they can care about and be involved in). Continue to look for professional support. Find ways to add/increase their physical activity. Look at medication options.

Good luck.

Just Joe

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2020, 02:44:19 PM »
How old? If they are old enough for community college they might like it a lot better. Also, they might be able to walk into the GED and pass without studying (my brother did). While this might not seem ideal a bad public school experience can be really damning, in my experience.

I know an "unschooled" kid that taught themselves highschool math in 3 months because they wanted to go to college. It's amazing what actual focus and motivation can do.

EDIT - but to answer their question: school is to make you a more informed citizen and increase your financial earnings.

Young teen. I wouldn't be unhappy with your brother's path for our teen.

Just Joe

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2020, 02:46:12 PM »
Are they more interested in hands on stuff? If so, is there a vocational school nearby they could enroll in? If they don't see the point in school, they may see the point in learning a skill, especially if they enjoy it. Welders, auto mechanics, plumbers, and electricians are all viable careers.

That's our older teen's likely path. No, this one is trying everything a little. We've learned not to indulge in activity gear too early lest it sit unused after a very short tryout. ;)

Just Joe

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2020, 02:47:02 PM »
I have a lot of thoughts on the question, but you have more pressing issues. Keep working on addressing the depression. Look for opportunities for your chid to find their 'tribe' (a community that they can care about and be involved in). Continue to look for professional support. Find ways to add/increase their physical activity. Look at medication options.

Good luck.

Thank you.

Blueberries

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2020, 02:57:44 PM »
You might get something out of reading or listening to Sir Ken Robinson.

School is about showing that you meet certain minimum educational requirements and about proving that you will bow to authority figures as defined by our society.

This is more or less what our answer has been. 

seattlecyclone

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2020, 03:05:04 PM »
For most people, school is about obtaining knowledge and/or credentials necessary to advance their career.

Some people love learning new things enough to take classes for the sake of learning, but if you have to ask the question of "what is school for?" you're probably not in that group.

OtherJen

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2020, 03:10:25 PM »
Are they a freshman? I didn't find my tribe (choir people) until halfway through my freshman year. Before then, I was lost in the shuffle since I hadn't come from the public junior highs that fed into the big high school and barely knew anyone.

If time doesn't fix things, the early GED route mentioned above sounds reasonable.

Bloop Bloop

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2020, 03:37:01 PM »
For me the point of school was to stretch my mind, teach me analytical and critical thinking skills, teach me discipline, teach me to tolerate and respect competition, learn how to be the smart kid in class, and learn how to be the dumb kid in class.

I learned about literature and music composition and American history and sociology and grammar and syntax and sentence diagramming and calculus and algebra and geography, all of which I am grateful to have learned, even if none of those (except the grammar and syntax) plays a direct part in my work.

John Galt incarnate!

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2020, 04:46:05 PM »
We're having trouble answering this question lately.

Our teen is suffering from some depression and anxiety. We tried counseling but an uncooperative teen doesn't get much from sessions no matter how good the counselor is.

We're moving up the ladder to more help.

Meanwhile, teen doesn't want to go to school. Isn't being bullied as far as we can tell but teen has no close friends. Teen has isolated themselves somewhat b/c they simply aren't mainstream in their appearance or interests. Just a different kind of kid. Doesn't hang with the girls or the boys very easily.

Tried homeschooling but teen made zero efforts to get any work done. Like didn't crack a single book. Tried alternate school in the district, lasted two weeks before begging to return to home schooling. Currently in the original school. This has been an eight month roller coaster.

The question "what is the point of school" is the one I can't seem to answer. DW and I like to learn. We both wanted to go to college and knew we needed to do the middle and high school years to get admission to university.

We have met adults who were not educated - and who could neither read nor spell even. What a burden in the modern world for them. However our teen can do all the basics.

Curious what you would say to that question about school...

Edited slightly for content

School's purpose is to teach  skills and inculcate values that facilitate  the pupil's  navigation of  life and success at various endeavors.


Shane

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2020, 05:29:58 PM »
Conventional HS isn't the only way to go. Two of my siblings quit HS during their senior year, took the GED and went straight to university. Both of them now have Master's degrees. One has two MSs. When college graduates go looking for a job, employers will only look at their university transcripts. No one will ever ask about HS. My point is that high school is optional in the US. If your child is really distressed by school, maybe taking a semester or a year off to do something self-directed, like, maybe, learn to play an instrument or speak a language or something else your child is interested in and, therefore, motivated to do on their own, might help. Good luck!

This video was interesting: What is the Purpose of School?

omachi

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2020, 05:48:59 PM »
One of my favorite questions to discuss and debate, from the earliest grades through graduate school. Especially since so many people just seem to do it because it's "what you're supposed to do". Ostensibly, it's there to teach you things, from literacy and numeracy to social norms and how to get along with others you'd rather not. Often people treat it like a dumb checkbox to get out of the way. Or you could go as far as GuitarStv does and claim it's there to indoctrinate people into blindly following authority. Of course, simply talking with a teacher about how well their students fall into line might disabuse one of that notion...

I say it's what you make of it. My teachers were nearly always willing to bend over backwards when I expressed interest in learning beyond the curriculum. In high school, I knew people who just wanted to be popular and were. People who just wanted to play sports. People who wanted to do nothing. We all got what we came for, and most of the people didn't set themselves up that well for the rest of life. Same with college, some just wanted the degree, some to party, and so on.

Have you turned the question of the purpose of school on its head and asked your teen? What do they want out of it? What do they want out of life? Have they even considered that there's a next step?

Ask how their attitude toward school is going to help or hinder their goals. And make it clear that living with you and being coddled isn't an option. Maybe if it's clear this is part of the journey and not something to be done simply for the sake of doing it, maybe they'll start working on an answer to the question that fits them. And that's what you really want. It's easy to reject somebody else's (read: your) idea of what teen should be doing. It's much harder to dismiss one's own idea of the same.

Cassie

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2020, 05:57:07 PM »
One of our 3 sons never liked school. It was difficult for him and he was sometimes a behavior problem by 14. At 16 he quit because he didnít need our permission. He liked working with his hands so we sent him to trade school which he liked.

Paul der Krake

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2020, 06:21:13 PM »
If you suspect a shock might be helpful: take him to a Walmart at 11:30pm the day before EBT day in your state.

Noodle

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2020, 07:11:47 PM »
Well, for me and a lot of my classmates, it was getting the credential that would get us the hell out of our small town in the middle of nowhere. (And in the pre-Internet days, the middle of nowhere really was Nothingsville.)

If a teen asked me today, I would say--to extract as much as possible that will be useful in later life, whether it's subject matter knowledge, social skills, references for jobs or college, college application material, etc. If you're willing to look, there's a lot available for free, and adults who would be happy to give a hand up to a kid who wants to try. At the very least you can learn to deal constructively with crappy situations and crappy people, a skill which may very well pay off more than anything you're getting graded on.

Good luck finding a good path for your teen. I have a nephew like that--no happy ending yet but he has a job and a sort-of direction post high-school, so that's something.


PDXTabs

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2020, 09:30:14 PM »
If you suspect a shock might be helpful: take him to a Walmart at 11:30pm the day before EBT day in your state.

Some states spread them out over the first 10 days based on the last digit of your social security number. But some do it all on the 1st.

SunnyDays

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2020, 11:35:04 AM »
It doesn't really matter how you answer this question, because that's not really what your child is asking.  With depression, the question is more likely, "what is the point of anything?"  Let's face it, a regular school day is a lot of effort and if the kid doesn't enjoy anything about it, it's just not worth it.  That why he/she (I forget sex from your previous posts) just wants to do "homeschooling" (where they haven't cracked a book) - so they can basically do nothing.  I'll hazard a guess that making learning a hands-on experience doesn't light any fires either, because learning isn't the issue, it's the underlying mood disorder.  Keep trying doctors/ therapists etc, until you find something that works, because the longer this goes on, the more deeply entrenched it will become.

seattleite

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #22 on: January 15, 2020, 05:35:38 PM »
School mostly exists so that parents donít have to be around their children all day long. Mostly so both parents can work so they make enough money to buy lots of stuff.

Fru-Gal

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2020, 05:59:16 PM »
Have you looked into Love and Logic? They may have a book or course that is relevant. I like their focus, which is on *not* solving kids problems for them. Natural consequences, when they are not harmful.

Early community college can be great.

There's also the unschooling movement.

Nature cures a lot.

Seems like more kids lack social skills now thanks to social media/smartphones/screens. The idea is not for the parent to *fix* the problem completely but rather encourage them to find a solution. Camping/outdoors groups, hobby groups, church youth group, sports teams, volunteering, even maybe Meetups are ways to find a pre-built group. Heck, there might even be outdoor mental health camps for teens.

Having said that I know how nearly impossible it is to get teens to do anything against their will.

Just Joe

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2020, 09:47:55 PM »
Thank you all. All of your suggestions are valuable. We have an appt with the school and psychologist next week. With our family MD a couple of weeks after that.

We're dealing with that "full stop" mentality right now. DW is upstairs trying to apply logic to the teen's brain but isn't making much difference as before.

A good example: you feed a vegetable to a child that discovers they don't like this veggie taste. They won't spit it out, won't chew it up and swallow it either. There is a favorite drink available. Many tears. Much time passes before they finally chew and swallow. This happened years ago with a single brussel sprout.

Teen's tensions might be easing as I type this. Fingers crossed.

Zikoris

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #25 on: January 15, 2020, 11:33:56 PM »
Okay, I'll go against the grain. Honestly, I don't see much purpose in schooling if you're not concerned about having a high-powered career. If I could go back in time, I probably would have just tested for my GED sometime in my early teens, gotten that credential, been done with the whole thing, and started working and saving money. School was mostly useless for me and I always learned way more outside of it, even in the very early years, because I've always pursued independent study into anything that interests me. Even in childhood, because that was a normal thing in my family.

Maybe focusing on GED + some specific job-related skills would be the way to go?

Blueberries

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #26 on: January 16, 2020, 06:19:25 AM »
For most people, school is about obtaining knowledge and/or credentials necessary to advance their career.

Some people love learning new things enough to take classes for the sake of learning, but if you have to ask the question of "what is school for?" you're probably not in that group.

I would agree with your first statement, but on the latter, I couldn't disagree more.

I read more books a year than weeks in a year and I enjoy taking classes on various things.  I'm passionate about learning.  I didn't become passionate about learning until I graduated school.  I'm not the exception.  Most public schools in the US do not produce people who love to learn.  It's normal for kids to ask this question because most of them aren't learning to be curious or creative, they are learning how to memorize and pass a test.

PDXTabs

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #27 on: January 16, 2020, 09:30:38 AM »
All of your suggestions are valuable. We have an appt with the school and psychologist next week. With our family MD a couple of weeks after that.

As a slight aside I would highly recommend Lost Connections by Johann Hari. Also know that there is a growing (but still preliminary) body of evidence that generalized inflammation can lead to depression.

Boofinator

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #28 on: January 16, 2020, 10:37:59 AM »
School mostly exists so that parents donít have to be around their children all day long.

As a former public school teacher, this rings true. My first and foremost job, to paraphrase my principal, was to be a good babysitter (or to actually quote him, it was "to keep the kids off the streets").

calimom

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #29 on: January 16, 2020, 12:01:48 PM »
School mostly exists so that parents donít have to be around their children all day long.

As a former public school teacher, this rings true. My first and foremost job, to paraphrase my principal, was to be a good babysitter (or to actually quote him, it was "to keep the kids off the streets").

That statement did seem like a not-so-subtle dig against working mothers, and/or a pro-homeschool shout out.

In different times, the leisure classes had tutors and lessons for their offspring in any variety of subjects and activities. Other kids were either working on farms or in factories or mines at very early ages. About 100 or so years ago, public schools did become popular, both as institutes of learning but quite likely places where children experience social structure, and, yes are kept off the streets. Teaching is a tough and very admirable gig.

PDXTabs

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #30 on: January 16, 2020, 12:18:08 PM »
In different times, the leisure classes had tutors and lessons for their offspring in any variety of subjects and activities. Other kids were either working on farms or in factories or mines at very early ages.

Yes, and during this part of history children and adolescents did not spend nearly as much time away from adults. Children, adolescents, and adults worked side by side and in this fashion people with fully formed brains got to pass down knowledge on how to behave in life. This has advantages and disadvantages, but a big advantage was that the children/adolescents didn't get to setup The Jungle style cliques and tribalism. That behavior was simply not tolerated by their coworkers. Also, the adolescents got experience mentoring the younger children.

I'm not opposed to public school per-say, but the modern times have certainly embarked in an unprecedented experiment to keep citizens of the same age segregated by themselves for a large amount of the 13 most formative years of their life.

SunnyDays

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #31 on: January 16, 2020, 02:51:52 PM »
I thought that schools were invented during the industrial revolution, when parents were no longer available to be with their kids all day.  Interestingly, before that, education was for the rich, who didnít have to work for a living.  Those who did have to support themselves either farmed or worked at a trade and the young people apprenticed under them.  Ironically, itís now believed that one needs a formal education to get a job.

Shane

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Re: So what IS the point of school our teen asked...
« Reply #32 on: January 16, 2020, 03:06:11 PM »
The documentary Most Likely to Succeed addresses some of the questions being discussed in this thread. The filmmakers follow real 9th grade students and their families who are experiencing, for the first time, a totally different type of education: Project Based Learning (PBL). It's really good!