The danger of the focus on college and career preparedness is that it takes a narrow perspective on the purpose of education. One of the least discussed aspects of this narrow approach is that it only sees the purpose of education as being focused on the future and takes little account of the present. Children have a right to learn how to deal with the world around them in an age-appropriate manner, and schools should not be perceived as training grounds for adulthood!
The focus on “College and Workplace Preparedness” also presents children as economic fodder with little purpose in life than to join the workforce. To my mind, there is a dichotomy between the mantra of “College and Workplace Preparedness” and genuine holistic education. How are children expected to develop a joy of life-long learning if the focus of their education is purely “vocational” with schools operating as training grounds for the workplace? Surely education must enable children to discover a sense of joy in academia (in learning for the sake of learning)? This is surely not an unobtainable goal?
Furthermore, for learning to be genuinely holistic, there must be a focus on the full development of every child. Education should focus on the social, moral, physical and spiritual needs of children – not because these “soft skills” might make them better members of the workforce but because these skills help them be better people (firstly as children and later as adults.) The knock-on effect of such genuinely holistic education is that the next generation of adults will be more wholly prepared for college and employment and, more importantly, life in general.