As I pulled up in front of high school to drop my daughter off she sighed heavily, "I don't really have to get out, do I? Please tell me you're just doing a drive by to scare me into behaving better." I laughed very hard, remembering the phase we went through with my son when we posted a photo of the local military academy on his bedroom wall and told him "THAT is where boys who don't listen have to go....Listening School!" Turns out he had a touch of ADD and was incapable of listening, so really, that was a mean thing we did, and thank goodness he never called our bluff because we could not have afforded to enact the punishment. But clearly, the concept has settled into family lore.
I began to ponder the differences between my high school experience and my daughter's. The same drama-trauma trifecta of flaky friends, heaps of homework and terrorist teachers frames her experience, as it did mine. She, however, has many more options and an openness to the social experience that is completely foreign to me. In addition to all of the usual student organizations; Key Club, sports clubs, academic clubs, theatre and musical groups, her school has an active Gay/Straight Alliance club that advocates for understanding and tolerance. There are gifted resource teachers, career specialists, home school coordinators and a school psychologist. This high school has a dual enrollment program with our local college. A number of students in the science/math track are provided with netbook computers at the beginning of their program.
Perhaps the most striking difference to me is the variety of electives offered. When I was in school it was the usual menu of mechanics, wood shop, home economics (the only time I ever managed to prepare a hollandaise that did not curdle) and the four standard foreign languages. My daughter now has the opportunity to take courses including music theory, poetry, practical law, time management, digital photography, medical terminology, medieval art and Japanese. So, when she expressed indecision over choosing electives for the upcoming year, I assumed it was because she had too many wonderful choices and was having trouble narrowing it down. "Hardly" she said, rolling her eyes "I just really don't understand why they can't offer Hindi!"
Of course. Silly me.