ELOs aren’t for everyone
In response to Art Abelmann’s column “Hands-on credit at Aspen High” (Feb. 10, The Aspen Times) and some of the other input toward that article: This is a good but dangerous idea.
To Lori Sailor, you are quite right that “very few kids make it to professional levels in sports.” That said, I can (offhand) think of four athletes who are attending or have graduated AHS in the past five/six years who are at a professional level. All four are some type of skier … is it any wonder that the school sports teams are the Aspen Skiers?
This aside, only two of the four examples Mr. Abelmann provided are for athletes. Though, again, you are right that “school is to teach, to prepare students for the ‘real world,'” that does not mean strictly academics. It takes a lot more than just math, science, languages, history, and English to find success in the “real world.”
In fact, I would argue that though traditional academics are absolutely vital, it is those extracurricular activities that define careers and many courses is the “real world.” The Ex-Ed program (Experiential Education) is one of the reasons that the Aspen School District is so unique; I can vouch that it has had a huge impact on my life. Ex-Ed is one of the strongest programs within the ASD, and Andy Popinchalk gives immeasurable time and effort to ensure that it is effective and successful. It provides “real world” experience that helps direct students in their intellectual pursuits, career choices, and social development in a way that academic classes (though crucial) cannot.
I doubt ELOs (Extended Learning Opportunity) would be for every student. Mr. Abelmann’s article gives the impression that the requirements for credit would be very specific and intense: “ELOs are defined by a level of student involvement that warrants consideration for elective credit.” I hope that this suggests there will be a committee for approving or denying ELO credit, because such a program should in no way be a means for students to neglect their academics. In fact, I hope that one of the stipulations for ELO credit is a minimum GPA within traditional classes … say a 2.8/4.0. Even a 3/4.0, or higher.
The ELO program sounds like a great idea, but I have to hope that constraints are established to ensure that students will not opt into the program simply to avoid academic obligations. Establishing a program that recognizes the talent, dedication, and individuality of students is brave and admirable … so long as that program does not also allow less motivated students to slip through the cracks.
AHS, Class of 2008
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