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Yes, really.

Those of you that know him, understand why this is funny. Taylor loves to read. He likes to play video games. He’s smart, and cute and kinda geeky.

His reasoning? “No Homework!”

His shortsightedness is driving me crazy.

He gets to pick three electives and wants to take World Geography and Art for the other two. Reasonable choices, I must admit.

Nevertheless, I am intent upon him taking Spanish, the only foreign language offered at his school.

Taylor is fourteen; at what point do we let him make autonomous decisions that may ruin effect his future?

Currently, I’m considering telling him he has to take Spanish, but may pick whatever he wants for the other two electives.

My reasoning:
1. The college that Taylor is currently interested in requires two years of a language for admission, as do most schools within the state of IL.
2. It would be best for him to take the two years starting as a freshman, as his peers will be in that class (if he takes it as a Junior and Senior the classes will consist mainly of Fresh/Soph) so he will have study partners. Additionally, languages are a lot of work, especially on top of his other AP classes. As a junior and senior he will likely have a job, and have less time to study than as a freshman and sophomore.
2. Taylor’s thinking at this point is pretty short-term. (See above mention of “No Homework!) I feel it is my duty, as a parent, to look out for his best interests, since he is not currently mature enough to adequately do so.
3. Shop class, really? Okay, I’m a snob, but shop class?

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15 Responses to “”

  1. Michael Legel Says:

    I took 2 years of Spanish (actually Mexican as our teacher was from there) and 35 years later I don’t remember enough to do any good. I think languages take time and interest and I had neither. I envy people who speak other languages fluently but everyone I ever knew capable of that really enjoyed learning them. I didn’t push any of our boys because I knew they wouldn’t really pursue them unless they wanted to and I always thought sorta knowing a language was like sorta playing the piano. Not.

    Good luck fighting that “No Homework” argument. At his age that is probably the most powerful incentive he can think of! Still … you have a very valid argument as to college so fight the good fight.

  2. Anon E. Mouse Says:

    Hey, little miss liberated thinker. What’s wrong with shop?

    Heaven forbid he learn something useful like how to fix a lawn mower or how to weld.
    I quit Typing* class after one semester my Junior year and gave up a year of Senior Study Hall so I could get an education in something practical before I left High School.
    I am geeks geek, for sure. I was captain of the varsity Scholastic bowl team for two years and a bandie. I was the kid the rest of the class was cheating off of in Algebra.
    I also this idea that maybe I didn’t know a whole lot about how my car worked.
    I haven’t welded anything since my basic metals class – but I think it wouldn’t take me long to get back into the groove (or bead, actually).
    After taking Small Engines my Junior year, I found a couple of broken down lawn mowers the next summer and spent $8 in parts and sold them for $25 apiece.
    My Senior year, we short-blocked the school pickup truck. I learned all about the pieces and parts of a car engine. Even though stuff is more complicated these days, I don’t have to take my mechanic at his word. He can explain (and I can understand) what is wrong with my vehicle.
    Even more so, I was an upperclassman working hand-in-hand with lowerclassmen. Also, I was from a more white-collar type family and a lot of these kids were from blue-collar families. We had to often work together, helping each other out with either an extra hand or advice.
    Whether it come to more traditional “vocational” skills or people skills or just an appreciation for how things go together, shop can’t be beat.
    (See Eyebrows McGee’s discussions of her experiences in electricians class as an example)

    I agree the kid needs a year of a foreign language at some point, but shop is a damn good choice, ESPECIALLY if shop seems a little atypical. That’s not a bad thing.

    *Note, I spend my job in front of a keyboard and I still would change this for the world.

  3. Secret Server Says:

    I am going through the same thing with Big E, already a freshman and picked out sophmore schedule with no foreign language plans. But I have a hard enough time getting him to apply himself in classes he wants to take. So if he has to take minimesters at ICC to get his foreign language once he realizes he needs it to get that marching band scholarship, so be it. I think Tay might be surprised and maybe shop will be a lot of work. Maybe you can have him make you a knife block or something.

  4. idonotknowme Says:

    Let him take shop class. I took Spanish in high school. I also took shop class. I have to engineering degrees from the University of Michigan. I have used what I learned in shop class WAY more than Spanish.

  5. idonotknowme Says:

    tWo degrees

  6. jenjw4 Says:

    All valid points. And I did have an inkling that I was overreacting.

    If he had some interest in shop, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, but his sole reason for wanting to take it is the desire of “no homework,” and to me, that’s not a reasonable criteria for picking a class. Of course, it could be a rude awakening and be a lot more work than he is anticipating. It could also turn out to be something that, unexpectedly, he would love and would lead to a future career.

    I do think I will keep pushing for Spanish, though, and if he wants to take shop he can take it as one of his other two electives.

  7. jadedgirl Says:

    Yes…keep pushing for Spanish. Reasoning? Mine is greed-based I guess. Bi-lingual applicants make as much as 8% more salary than their English-only speaking compadres. (Inter-Business Issues 2004, I think)
    And I can say from experience that I wish I would have followed my moms advice on foreign language AND typing when I was in HS.

    I kick myself every day when I see a great job that requires fluency in Spanish OR 60 WPM typing skills.

    BUT…shop is still a good thing as well. Sometimes practical skills will take you much further than any book learnin’

    Sorry that I’m not much help here. But I would insist on he picking two and you pushing Spanish for sure.

  8. mortonmalaise Says:

    I took two years of Spanish in high school. I was fortunate enough to be immersed in native speakers growing up in South Florida. I learned more hanging out with Cubans for 6 months than I did in 2 years of high school Spanish. Unfortunately, the state of Florida doesn’t recognize “hanging out with native speakers” as fulfilling the high school foreign language requirement, so I was lucky to have taken the class. I waited to take shop until my senior year. There is no better 1st hour for someone with Senioritis than shop. Tell him to wait.

  9. jenjw4 Says:

    MM,
    I agree-and it also helps if you are in a situation in which you must cope, in which you must use the language, for example, one of my co-workers in Mendota (the only other gringo) learned to speak Spanish working at McDonalds for several years in high school. Her Spanish is way more fluent than my “book learnin'” version…

  10. Ms. PH Says:

    I think you should keep pushing for Spanish for all of the reasons cited by other comments. The fact of the matter is, by the time he is looking for a “real” job in 8-10 years, Spanish will be all but required for many professions. In my profession, many attorneys who work in the southern and western US are required to be fluent in Spanish to get the job. That will certainly spread north as our country becomes more and more diverse.

    I also would insist on World Geography and give him the choice between art and shop, which are both equally wonderful classes. However, if he is truely interested in art and shop, either one of them or both can be taken as classes through the park district or other programs in the area.

  11. jenjw4 Says:

    Proof that I worry too much.. when my son got home from school yesterday (after another visit to the high school) he has now decided on Spanish, World Geography and Ag.

    Ag?? Ag is almost as confounding as the shop choice. But, oh well, I’m not going to say anything since he did decide on the Spanish. And who knows how often he will change his mind between now and time to submit his final choices.

  12. reno Says:

    Yeeaaaah, looks like a moot point now, but I actually agree with Mr. Mouse on this one. Shop classes can teach a variety of skills that certainly any homeowner would want to possess.

    I took a basic electricity class, and learned how to use a soldering iron (great for when I need to fix something on my bass guitar or some random computer part), basics of house wiring, such as wiring a power outlet, a light switch and a ceiling fan. They also taught me wire color-coding standards for residential wiring (something rather useful if you’re interested in not being electrocuted). Also learned how to wire a doorbell, create circuit boards and how to properly cut and run coaxial cable (for TVs and the like).

    All-in-all? Useful life skills. Looking back, I wish I’d taken an automotive shop class. My vehicular woes might be lessened considerably.

  13. Billy Dennis Says:

    Spanish is good. Have him drop one of the other electives and take shop too. My high school counselors shoved as many college prep classes as they could down my throat. I left college a perfect little cog in the media industry. My lie would have been much better (with more options) had I a more well-rounded education.

  14. jenjw4 Says:

    Billy, I agree, and actually, now that he has chosen spanish, geography and ag, I think shop would be preferable to the Ag, for him. He has no interest in farming or even in gardening, where the skills from shop class would be usefule in later life…

    Reno, that’s so cool. I actually wish that either my husband or myself had a basic knowledge of electrical wiring. As it is, we have to pay someone to install things like ceiling fans or beg the undependable brother-in-law. Oh, and automotive knowledge would be useful, too, as one time my husband filled the radiator of the car with oil!

  15. raoul duke Says:

    Had a couple of buddies in High school that took all the shop classes and then went to S.I.U for this program http://siucautomotive.com/autoindex.html after they graduated college one went to work for Ford and one for GM, they never touched an engine at work or got greasy again. Both were more successful than almost anyone I went to school with.

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