Throughout their high school years, students constantly question if or when they ever will use, in the real world, certain concepts they learn in class.
Although high schoolers are offered an abundance of interesting classes on a variety of topics, students may not be learning the most necessary life skills to have when entering adulthood. This is because the required general education classes go in depth to a level that would only be applicable and beneficial to those pursuing that particular field of study.
To solve the problem of students being ill-prepared when transitioning out of high school, schools should consider requiring students to take more life skills classes and put less emphasis on general education courses.
Matt Server, a staff writer on The Daily Nebraskan, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s independent student newspaper, argues that general education subjects are just as important as life skill courses. He maintains that it is crucial to have a basic knowledge and understanding of all four of the core subjects: math, language arts, science and social studies.
However, roughly 53% of college grads under the age of 25 were out of work or unemployed in 2011. Blogger Stephen Guise believes this was due, in part at least, to them not being taught the proper life skills — money management and interpersonal communication, for example — needed to be successful outside of school.
While it is true that it is important to be well-rounded and have a basic knowledge of the core subjects, high school classes go far beyond the basics — and further away from what will truly be useful for students’ futures.
Oftentimes, teachers say that things students are being taught in their classes will come up later in life; this happens particularly in math classes. But how much of what’s being taught in high school math will really come up frequently in real life for everybody?
It’s understandable that students from elementary school to high school are taught how fractions and decimals work — those skills may be useful when faced with real-world problems. But many math classes hit on other types of math that only would be necessary for those pursuing a math-related career. Putting so much pressure on students to learn so many areas of math — and to succeed at them — doesn’t seem as important as other classes they could be taking to help prepare them for adulthood. Same goes for science classes like chemistry and biology.
One class that should be encouraged — or even required — for students to take is an economics class. Econ classes teach students how money is circulated in the economy and how to maintain and manage money. They teach about the push and pull of supply and demand in the market, which is important for everyone as consumers and future producers.
Likewise, home economics classes teach different skills for everyday life such as cooking, child care, home management, and health and hygiene.
Instead of schools encouraging these classes, students are forced to take a wide variety of different classes in areas of study that most likely won’t be useful to them in the future. And some kids don’t have parents who take the time to teach them the life skills that will help them to be independent and responsible.
So schools need to focus more on requiring life skills classes rather than general education classes. Students should learn things that will be useful. They should learn lessons that will stick with them for their whole lives and help them be more successful in the real world.
Olivia Harrington is in grade 11 at Ephrata High School.