As I was driving to IKEA yesterday a radio ad came on for the English language gymnasium here in Stockholm. Basically, it’s a high school where English is the language of instruction. The ad was singing the praises of learning English and the impact it would have on your future. And that’s when it hit me. This was like your classic American university recruiting ad. But this wasn’t America. And it was for high school.
High school is a big deal here in Sweden. And it’s time for students to make a decision as to what high school they want to attend. It’s kind of like picking a college. Except the Swedes make 14 –year olds do it.
I had a hard enough time picking a college. I can’t imagine having to also pick a high school. And of course they play up your future. Because this high school will lead to a better future. Or that high school will give you those opportunities.
It seems that when you enter high school you choose a line of study. Very specific. And you continue through with it. None of this liberal arts education that allows you to sample a little bit of everything.
There’s the whole idea of “jack of all trades, master of none,” so by focusing on just one subject, I suppose that is a positive. But what happens when you decide you don’t like your line of study? I didn’t know what I wanted to do in high school. Hell, I didn’t even know what I wanted to do in college. And I still don’t know what I want to do. But I have a whole lot of different subjects under my belt, and had plenty to choose from. I never felt like I had pigeonholed myself with something I had to do for the rest of my life. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have only studied one thing and to realize that’s not at all what you want to do in life.
I suppose when the government is paying for everyone to go to school, they want to make sure that the people they are educating are experts. Or maybe they just don’t want to employ all of those extra people. Seems easier to just put all the IT people in one school. All the social sciences people in another. Probably saving all sorts of overhead there. See… I studied business.
Of course, when someone has gone through three years of physics and suddenly decides that math really sucks when they started replacing all of the numbers with Greek letters, it’s going to get expensive. Now that person wants to study sociology. You know, that major that all of the athletes studied in college. D’s get degrees. Which, strangely enough, as a tutor employed by the university, is a term that is frowned upon. Anyway, now our future sociologist has to start all over. And that is definitely expensive for the government.
To expect high school students, who are more concerned with getting a girlfriend than learning the quadratic equation, to be thinking so far ahead that they need to choose a high school that will relate to their future employment is just ridiculous. And kind of mean even.