While in school, how many times do you find yourself asking somebody, “When will I ever use this in life?” When you’re sitting in Algebra and are told to find the slope of an equation in standard form, do you groan and tell your teacher that learning this has no purpose? You’re probably right. Unless you’re going to become an engineer or a computer programmer, odds are you won’t need any math skills beyond basic mathematics. But why are we taught things that won’t be necessary after high school? And why are key skills left out of the curriculum?
Let’s start with what we don’t need, but are taught anyways.
Every year, without fail, a math teacher is bound to come up with a chart, graph or video which shows where exactly their students will need what they’re teaching in the future. They seem excited when they tell you that concepts like functions or imaginary numbers were used to create the phone you’re always on! And sure, it’s amazing to know how numbers and equations are used to create items that we use everyday, but that still doesn’t give every student a reason to be exposed to these ideas.
The honest truth is that most students simply do not care about what they’re learning unless it pertains to their interests or future plans.
Now, let’s address some things that should be taught in school that would properly prepare teenagers for the real world:
- How to write a check: Personal finance is something that everybody deals with everyday once they enter the workforce or apply to college. This concept is not something that should be avoiding because, no matter what, at some point in each of our live’s we are going to have to deposit or take money out of the bank. How will we get by without understanding how to write a check?
- Taxes: Going with the theme of money, it should seem appropriate for a senior in high school to at least know the basic facts about taxes. As a junior, all I know is that my parents have to make an appointment and meet with somebody to find out how much money they will get back from their taxes. That’s all.
- Budgeting: As young adults, many have already gotten a job from which you have received a pay check. Where does that money go? How much should you put aside for other things? These are the kinds of questions that need to be answered in an educational setting about budgeting your earnings.
- Applying for college: It’s no surprise that college is a big deal for most upperclassmen. Many students start thinking about possible options in middle school, but high school is when the reality sets in. Without given advice and tips about filling out a college application, many might not be as confident as they should feel. If filling out college, or even job, applications was something taught in school, teenagers wouldn’t be as worried or stressed.
- Accurate sex-ed: Health classes and their curriculum have drastically declined recently as the material that is taught is not as beneficial as it should be. Students are told about the different types of STDs and about child birth, but they are not informed about how to have, as uncomfortable of a topic as it might be, safe sex. During my freshman year, we watched three videos of live births which many fell asleep to. We watched the documentary, “Supersize Me”, and were shown how McDonald’s food sits in our stomachs. No one was given helpful information to ensure them a safe and healthy future besides, well, don’t eat McDonald’s.
- Safety: Protecting yourself from predators is something that, in today’s society, should be known. Young girls and boys should be educated on resources which could help in times of danger. All students should be able to openly discuss the keys to a healthy, non-abusive relationship and apply those things to themselves. Safety in all aspects of life is something which should come hand-to-hand with a high school heath class.
- LGBT+ safety: It should be known that all high schools have students who fall on some level of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. That being said, even if safe sex is taught in health class, not all students will benefit from it. Teenagers who fall under this category need to know how to take care of themselves and their partners just as a straight couple would. It is not fair for these students to be singled out or completely ignored. If they can sit through learning about a healthy straight relationship, then straight students can sit through learning about a healthy LGBTQ+ relationship and all the things that come with it.
Most high schools try their best to be inclusive and helpful for preparing students for imminent adulthood, but their efforts are not always effective. Without all student’s feelings being considered, not everyone will be given the tools needed to succeed. Schools must take it upon themselves to reverse this issue and provide stronger support for all students.