In a recent conversation I heard about a ninth grader taking AP courses. Just a few years ago, I'd heard about more juniors taking them. Only recently had I heard about sophomores.
What's the hurry?
I don't know; in fact, I can't even come up with a single compelling argument. The issue is not my problems with the AP program in general. It's something much more basic, Why do we think this is good for young people?
It's part of a disturbing trend of adults pushing things onto kids at younger and younger ages. The college counseling process starts earlier. Middle school kids take SAT prep courses. They have all sorts of intense "enrichment" programs. Club sports begin earlier and earlier. Someone told me the other day about a select baseball team on which the kids had fancy uniforms, high-grade equipment, and their own walk-up music when coming to bat. They were kindergarteners.
We're directing young people's energies in the wrong way and at the wrong rate. Think about a car with its engine being revved too high for an extensive period. It breaks down sooner, even burning out.
In many newer cars, if the engine is revved too high for too long, the onboard computer shuts it down. So are we more careful with our cars than with our kids?