Attitudes and Values of High School Students Term Paper

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attitudes and values of high school students. Reforms to the high school system in the United States are also explained. Additionally, the reason why students need not be involved in the planning of reforms is elucidated.

High School Students: their Attitudes and Values

Of a crucial age, climbing a milestone, conscious to their fullest with no fear of prospects, high school students have interested researchers and policy makers for centuries. They have quite a few common traits -- they behave as individuals of their own age group in a rather full-fledged way. They are go-getting to achieve their independence, they are show-offs, impressionable persons desiring to be their best (something to be learned) and to suit the times they live in. Their self-esteem is fragile and they are pretty sensitive to criticism, attention, and dilemmas, for instance, within their families.

Students from different socioeconomic backgrounds behave differently as has been known to researchers for many decades. It is known that many (if not most) high school students love to enjoy themselves with friends. Oft times they have to congregate with groups that are engaged in smoking, consumption of alcohol, and abuse of drugs. There is high probability that peer influence would dominate and those previously not exposed to drugs, as an example, may try drugs themselves and possibly even begin to abuse them. Although this possibility may exist for all high school students, research has been indicating that students from inferior socioeconomic backgrounds would be at a greater risk for the abuse of drugs, consumption of alcohol at an early age, smoking, and other wrongful habits.

When we talk of socioeconomic groups, automatically in the mind of anybody knowledgeable of the divisions in United States based on socioeconomic status, would know that African-Americans it is always reported about that they are at a much higher risk for drug abuse, alcohol consumption at an early age, and smoking. African-American high school students, in this case, are considered to be of a socioeconomic status lower than that of the European-Americans or whites. Hispanic-Americans too are thought of as lesser in socioeconomic position than the white Americans. The way African-American high schools students are at a higher risk for engaging in illegal conduct (with its basis being what the students are exposed to), Hispanic-American high school students may also be said to be at a relatively high risk as compared to European-American high school students. It should be added here that there is no dearth of European-American high school students at risk either. Basically, anybody vulnerable enough to start imitating behavior that he has not taught is incorrect, will indulge in it. High school students are susceptible because they are confidently struggling to find maturity and to be grownup. They like their friends whom they relate to better at this time than they do with their near relations. It is almost inevitable then that they follow what their peers do.

The above example has been used to illustrate the point of this chapter -- to examine the attitudes and values of high school students in the light of research (secondary), with particular attention to dissimilarity in attitudes and values when seen from the perspective of diverse socioeconomic groups or races that reside in the United States of America. In addition, we will explore certain reforms of high schools with respect to the interest of the students.

Attitudes and Values: Who are High School Students?

Using self-esteem as a moderating factor, J.S. Coleman conducted a wide range of research to find that interscholastic athletics was a determining factor in values of male high school students. Athletic success was given preference over scholastic proficiency and popularity among peers (of significant importance to high school students) -- in this research. The American school system encourages this value. The sportsmen sense independence, popularity (of its own), seriousness of goals, and great amounts of energy based on their athletic performance in high school (Simo, 1994). African-Americans are known to be particularly good at several sports in which they have left a mark -- basketball (that suits the stature of many of them), baseball, soccer, and nearly all sports played in the U.S. Decades of research have been showing that for male students, athletic success still is the most appreciated trait (Simo). This suggests that although studies on the African-American students have shown them to achieve less academically (scholastically) than the average European-American high school students, the African-American students still might have a great self-esteem because these students are physically brawny, sturdy and strong. Moreover, they play very well on their school sports teams. It may be deduced from this also that the African-American males may have higher self-esteem at high school age than the African-American female students.

Research revealing that male students chose athletic success over scholastic achievement, also showed that girls wanted to be remembered as leaders in extracurricular activities or as the most popular girls in school rather than for being academically proficient. Another study let it be discovered that girls would rather be athletes than be academically successful (Simo). At high school age, being academically successful is valued but not seen as something that must be achieved as a last resort. In other words, being academically rich is not the end that high school students see as their immediate target. By this age, students come across the notion of "more is less." They are ambitious and less realistic because they have not yet lived in the 'real world' as they call it -- the world outside school, the world of occupations.

Girls who are into sports may find it easier to fit in. Same with those who are looked upon as beautiful or popular in other respects. Academic success would be a bonus in this instance, but not a necessity for many, especially those involved in sports. Of course, the students may still want to fulfill minimum requirements of their courses. These students do not wish to be left behind in any way.

Concurrent studies either reconfirm the evidence unearthed previously or disprove it. In either case, the results scientific in nature are relied upon. On the same topic, Furst and Di Carlo (1991) conducted research. Contrary to the facts mentioned before, these researchers found that the value order for girls might have changed -- they now viewed academic success as something surpassing popularity and athletic achievement. It has been in the past been speculated upon that girls are more interested in academic achievement than are boys. While girls like to concentrate on their reading and writing in the classroom, boys would rather be in the playground, it is popularly believed. The study by Furst & DiCarlo confirmed this idea to the extent of their research.

Simo (1993) notes that being a leader in extracurricular activities still may be the value of greatest consequence to female high school students, however. Hence, it is easy to infer that differences in opinions exist even among the results of scientific studies. In a similar context, cross-cultural different in adolescent values have been observed nationally and internationally. Yet, we have determined that athletics are considered the best way to receive recognition in the schools of the United States.

The African-American community is noticed more than is the Hispanic-American one. One reason for this is that there has been an influx of Hispanics into the country over recent decades only whereas the blacks have lived here for over a century. Additionally, the African-Americans have been given special attention in a multitude of important offices around the country. This they have achieved over a long time they spent also protesting for their equal rights with the whites. Nevertheless, the Hispanic-Americans are growing in the United States, and classrooms now have unique programs to not only ease the transition of the Hispanics in the country, but also to make it accessible for them to gain education and thereby contribute to the American society effectively in the long run. Two-way programs integrating native English speakers and English language learners in the same classroom and providing content instruction in both English and the native language of the learners, have proved to be highly successful among Hispanic students in the U.S. Such programs are given the name of two-way immersion, also called two-way bilingual or dual language education. As is obvious, such programs "aim to provide high quality educational experiences for all students and promote higher levels of academic achievement. (Lindholm-Leary et al., 2002)"

Lindholm-Leary and others carried out a study and thereby determined the effects of two-way immersion on Hispanic-Americans as compared with the European-Americans. As expected, the Hispanic-Americans were fairly excited about the dual language education. They reported high motivation to do well in school, valued education strongly and believed that getting a good education is the best way to have a better life. They too reported understanding that it is important to get good grades to enter college. With high positive attitudes with respect to their academic competence, the two-way…[continue]

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