A [High-School] Freshman at 21

One of my weekly reading assignments in grad school is to pick an article from the National Council of Teachers of English website and review it.  Sometimes it's a formal review paper, and sometimes just a discussion, but I always learn something interesting.  Even if you aren't a member of NCTE, or even an English teacher at all, there are always interesting articles there.

This week, I read about Dallas teachers who are being given high school classes of mixed-age students: anywhere from 12 to 25 years old.  Good God.  As if your freshman year weren't bad enough, you're supposed to participate in classes with "kids" twice your age?  Not to mention that many teachers are recent college graduates, with the potential to be younger than their students?

Rob has an interesting perspective on this.  He started teaching at a community college before he had completed his own bachelor's degree.  At 23, he had students who were more than twice his age; community colleges attract a lot of second-career students, and architecture is attractive to a lot of people who don't really know what it's all about. (Which is not their fault.  Shows like Trading Spaces help promote the delusion that they just sit around and build bookshelves out of paint cans and nail guns.)  In most of his classes, he has a mix of recent high school graduates and older professionals.  This can be an advantage, as when a student complains that she can't finish her project because she's sooooo busy with her after-school job and a new puppy.  He can point across the room and say, "That guy has a full-time job, too, and a wife and three kids, and somehow he manages to get his work done."

High school and college are different, though.  High school should be a safe place, where you can take classes that "don't matter" but help you discover who you are.  You should be able to voice your opinions without fear of embarrassment; it's embarrassing enough to be honest in front of your peer group, but to be honest in front of someone who's 8 or 10 years older is a different story.  To say nothing of the increased possibility of statutory rape.  Sorry, but it's true.  Someone's got to think about it.