Florida Students Get "Majors"
As part of a push to make high school more meaningful for kids, Florida legislators passed a law last week that requires students to declare majors. Students take a variety of core courses, then four electives in their major, and four other electives.
In theory, this is a good idea. Too much of high school focuses nothing on the world beyond it. So I'm inclined to wait and see how it goes. Perhaps schools will start expanding their offerings to include advanced science classes for science majors, specific literature genres (say, 20th century, or women writers, or Latin America) for literary types.
But I worry that, instead, this well-intentioned program will lead to bad results for gifted kids. Many high schools are a bit narrow-minded on what constitutes a career. South Carolina instituted "career clusters" recently to boost student interest. This link leads to some literature about each of the clusters. I'm not sure I could have chosen journalism, for instance -- or that a budding Egyptologist would find much to interest her (unless she could somehow link it to the hospitality industry). Kids who want academic majors would also, under the Florida majors plan, have far less time to take arts electives like orchestra or choir. This will force kids with "multipotentiality" to commit to one interest, or else fund their study on their own after school.
Ideally, schools would have adopted the "majors" approach on their own, and kids would be free to move between schools in a given area. That way, if students were interested in a focused, in-depth study in a career or academic area, they could attend that school. But it's easier to enact policies on a state level, so that's what Florida has chosen to do. We'll see how it turns out.