1) The factory is EXACTLY what our high school experience is based on (this is not a new idea and many others have correctly pointed it out. Our structure of 45 minute periods, of having bells signal the beginning and end of the period, the standardization of everyone learning the same things, is all directly off a factory model and is just incredibly out-dated.
Seriously now, why is everyone in high school learning about sine curves and how to balance chemical equations, but not how to recognize a scam. There needs to be a massive new thinking about the content and structure of high school, and the standards movement is doing exactly the opposite.
About college, this is both a social and educational experience where you are learning that you are not the center of the universe. This can happen intellectually on the internet, but not socially.
I do think almost everyone gains from college, but some for different reasons than others.
For bright, motivated, skilled kids:
Academic preparation for graduate school
Learning that there are more questions than answers
Learning how to write a college level paper.
Learning how to research
Learning how much you don’t know
Learnng how to create their own theories, how to test them and how to defend them.
In some cases, learning career skills
Learning how to write more clearly
Learning how to find information you need to know
Learning how to read skeptically
Learning how to prepare for a career
Learning skills write a coherent sentence
Learning grammar and syntax rules
Learning how to understand what you read
Learning basic math skills and how to use them
Learning specific skills for a career
This is basically Grade 13
All kids (other options like Teach for America, the military, Peace Corps will also provide this)
All adolescents benefit from a Time Out, called a psycho-social moratorium in the literature. It is a chance to try out different personalities, ways of coping, social groups etc. without great consequence. You break up with your girlfriend, fail a test, let a friend down…so what. You move on. It is an opportunity to try out the things many parents have squashed through the previous 18 years: taking risks, learning from mistakes, advocating for yourself, speaking your mind, behaving appropriately and learning the risks and consequences of not doing so.
Unfortunately, the conditions for these are significantly reduced or eliminated for kids who commute or take on-line courses. It is even worse for kids who live at home and directly enter the work force.