SOCB26H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 11: Human Capital, Jean Charest, School Choice
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2. The rise of the shopping mall high school:
Shopping malls serve to draw potential customers.
The other thing malls have is the occasional celebrity appearances.
Malls characterized by variety of things that they have going on a number
of choices that people can make.
Argument is that in order to accommodate an increasingly diverse range
of students, some of whom might have serious academic interests, in
order to accommodate this, the school provides a lot of variety.
The variety works at different levels.
Number of different programs and courses to enroll in.
Creation of an educational system, which provides a lot of variety and a
fair bit of choice.
They are free to choose how much effort to expand upon the choices they
In terms of this business about variety and choice, another character of
mall is that the school itself remains on the sidelines, neutral about
choices that students make. Students and parents are able to choose in
grade 10, to take applied math as opposed to advanced, without the
commentary from the school to the effect that if you want to get into
university, your ambitions aren’t very well served.
Keeps the customer satisfied and the customers in this case are students
and their parents. Different consumers i.e. students and parents have
different tastes and different needs. Some customers/students are good at
art/music, others have more sporting event, and some are interested in
academic subjects and will be invested in programs of study that lead
them to university.
Produces academically excellent students. Instead of promoting
universally high academic standards, in many cases the nature of the
shopping mall high school is that for many students, promoted mediocrity.
Most criticism of mall comes from traditional educationalists who believe
that schools mission is to promote education and produce large amounts
of educational attainment.
Mastery of the core subjects in the curriculum was no longer expected for
all students. Those students under the name of choice could choose to
take those core subjects or not. Another similar point, students and
parents who looked for academic curriculum could find it but the students
who weren’t interested in demanding curriculum was able to avoid that
demand in curriculum.
Critics suggest that mediocre students could year after year pass from one
grade to another without having to do much more than put a nominal
What was happening in many high schools is that within high schools,
what had evolved over time was a set of unwritten rules (informal rules)
about how tough some courses could be.