My high school is celebrating 100 years of their existence. Mazel tov.
So I share the following thoughts. I wasn't there for long but when I was there I can say that it was - FOR ME - a mammoth waste of time [although many others may have had a different experience and I am NOT BLAMING THE SCHOOL. I don't like to blame...]
The most important things you need to know in life are not taught in any school. How to develop relationships. How to weather difficulties and crises. How to manage on no income. How to be a good husband and father. A high school diploma doesn't necessarily help one get a job or make a living. PLENTY of people who went to high school and even did well are unemployed [same goes for college]. Others who never went to high school are doing GREAT. [It might help but no guarantees]. It doesn't teach, what they call today, EQ. Emotional quotient. People skills. However, it is all about IQ and whether you can memorize those mathematical formulations that we all forget long ago. But the main success in life is predicated upon EQ and not IQ. Many, many emotional capacities are needed to do well in life. The more emotionally developed one is - the better he will do in life, the happier he will be, the more satisfaction he will have etc. etc. [Read Daniel Goleman's book if you want to know more].
In high school they tried to teach a lot of different subjects, but at the time, I couldn't have cared less. My friends didn't either but for them it was important to get good grades. I didn't care about grades either because how can someone judge me based on how many questions I get right on a test. So I PURPOSEFULLY would fail tests. It was my form of rebellion.
I wish I would have been taught to love learning and knowledge. I wish I would have been taught that a human being's value is not based on his test scores [I knew it but that wasn't the message that was being delivered]. I wish I would have had teachers who truly cared about me and not just see me as another of thousands of kids that they have to teach in order to feed their families. Maybe there were a few who cared but they are RARE. One way to gauge if a teacher cares about YOU is if he is interested in you after you are no longer in his class. Like your parents care about you even after you leave their home [even though I know of many exceptions to that rule, too].
Here I am 30 years after high school and wonder what it was all for. My history teacher would read his handwritten notes and have us write down everything he says in order to remember it from the test. He didn't seem to care about the material nor did any of us. All of us forgot everything over the years.
I received contradictory messages. My Torah teachers were teaching that the most important thing in life is Torah and mitzvos. My secular studies teachers taught me that their subjects were most important. In gym there was great emphasis on Greek competitions and great honor was given to those who excel. Society was saying that it's important to have a girlfriend and a good time. How is an impressionable little 14 year old kid to decide who is right? So I grew up confused and so kids continue to be raised.
There is much more to be said but other responsibilities beckon. I will conclude with a hope that our educational system be reformed and purified.
Maybe more for a different time.