Goodness me oh my! So many good points in previous posts I want to lift quotes from nearly every one but since I cannot, let me ramble for a moment and try to cover some of them.
Communication as the reason to learn is valid, no doubt. Let me ask this : if people are making up the "rules" for themselves, how is another to understand?
Surely there has to be some attention paid to keeping all who want to learn a language on the same page, so to speak.
As to the demands of today's world : I think every generation has been under pressure. It is just different, not better or worse.
In my high school days (Autumn 1944 through June 1949) this is what I had :
History - four years starting with Ancient and moving up through the centuries to finally American History in senior year.
Math - two years algebra, one chemistry, one geometry.
Language - two years Latin, two years French (some students opted for Spanish instead of French.)
Arts- four years of art classes water color, oils, pastels, painting on fabric, etc. etc.
Music - we all had at least two hours of music a week in class. Additionally I had music lessons 45 three days a week. We all participated in the school chorus.
There was a war on so we had no gym teachers (they all went into the Army -WACS- or Navy -WAVES- or flew planes - WASPS) but we were expected to take a walk during our luch hour and to participate in some sport that could be done on our own without equipment -- I chose to swim! That was summer so winter it was walks!
Additionally we had a minimum of two or three hours of homework a night.
Marks were given as numbers 65% was the lowest grade you could get and have a passing mark. One third was class work, one third written work, one third test marks. Teachers kept daily marks in a book and we were allowed to consult them to see how we were doing on class work.The marks were averages to give us a mid-term and then a year-end grade.
Every Friday we were given a ten minute quizz at the start of each class to see if we'd gotten the gist of what had been taught that week. As an aside, those quizzes helped us overcome "test fears."
And on top of that we were expected to do special projects to increase our grades in a given subject.
I was in an all-female private school. However I had friends in the city's public high school and aside from classes in embroidery (which we were given) the public high school carrried a similar subject load.
That was a pretty fair amount of pressure. Oh, and because I went to private school, I had a 45 minute bus ride morning and afternoon.
Just so you do not think we were drudges, we also had an active social life, played with friends, went to movies, helped Mother around the house, read books, listened to Don Winslow and Jack Armstrong on the radio, read news of the war in newspapers and wrote to our uncles, brothers, fathers in the Armed Forces and prayed they would come home safe.
Now, I was an average student, generally got marks in the low 80s. The exceptions were English and History were I generally scored higher - 85 to 90 %. So, by most standards I should have opted for a typing course and gone into office work. Instead, because I had been gifted with a very good singing voice I went to college ... and there, because I could take courses that interested me, even though they were more demanding I got straight As and graduated with honors.
A friend of mine who has a Master's degree in Business is now teaching a class in Business English. She has found that her pupils (already earning a living in business)generally are eager and willing to learn but in every class there are a few who confuse spell check with grammar check. And they complain and often her marks are overturned by a higher up ... the school is afraid of losing students and the tuition they bring in.
On the other hand my neighbor's daughter attended our local high school, which is your average high school, and she attained marks that gained her a scholarship to college She is studying in the field of science and genetics. She was also in the Latin Club with my godson and they sometimes chat in Latin. He just got a four year scholaship to Boston University! Good heavens! The parents in both cases encouraged their children but are not slave drivers. And some other teens in the same classes are barely passing! Perfectly normal, no-drug type kids and they cannot put a compound sentance together.
I don't know what the point of all this is. Perhaps someone could figure it out and let me know, too.