Having grown up in the US and having gone through the public education system from K to 12 grade in the 90’s , I have a pretty strong opinion about some of BASIC LIFE KNOWLEDGE I SHOULD HAVE BEEN TAUGHT, but wasn’t. Rather as an adult I had to piece together this knowledge through experience. This just doesn’t apply to my education but to many other adults and even kids today, basically are short-changed with practical education in common day life skills.
Sadly public schools are STILL teaching topics like 1950’s industrial era education . Besides the basics R’s (Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic) ,subjects like social studies, history, sciences and the arts predominate the classroom. Why is this?? I suspect many reasons, status quo and state governments are slow moving and see no need or not their responsibility to provide beyond a fundamental education. Perhaps schools and governments feel this is too specific to teach?? Whatever the reason US education is still too focused on archaic post-WWII notions of what education id needed, while ignoring that we’re in a fast changing world.
Disclaimer: I know there are some schools that actually do cover some of these topics, so please understand I’m talking in generalities as it pertains to core public education.
I want to focus my gripe on High School’s, because it’s at this point when most young adults can grasp and understand and gain an interest in these concepts, so keep in mind the topics below are geared towards the later high school years.
Here are some of the topics I’m learning as an adult but wish I had learned in High School.
Money & Finance
This is my #1 complaint, I was taught nothing about money and finances in school, and this becomes such an integral part of adult daily life. Money and Finances are so much a part of day to day living that it’s crazy how most of the education system glosses over this or doesn’t even discuss it all. Money and Finances (Money for short) is such a broad topic, i realize that no school can be expected to cover everything, but certain basics should be taught such as:
- Basics of banking system, bank accounts, FDIC
- Investing, stocks and bonds and other investment instruments
- Real Estate, how to buy , finance a home
- Loans and leases and other big ticket purchases
I can go on , but clearly with headlines like “6 in 10 Americans don’t have $500 in savings” (Source CNN:money) , there’s obviously a important need for this education. There are many youtube channels and online blogs dedicated to help you learn some of these topics. Here are some of the site’s I recommend:
- Mr Money Mustache , practical money topics geared towards early retirement
- Phil Town, Rule #1 investing, investing and personal finance & related topics
- Clark Howard Podcast, Personal finance and consumer advocacy
Law (US legal system)
As an adult we encounter so many legal situations, yet, the way we learn is either through friends shared experiences, on-line or when we consult a lawyer. Now I understand the law is a complicated subject and I certainly don’t expect anyone class to teach us all the details. But there are certainly certain high-level concepts that all young adults should be exposed to .
Here are some things I wish a course like this would cover:
- How our courts work, what are some basic rights as a US citizen
- Basics or misdemeanors and felonies
- Family law: topics like divorce, adoption, elder care… etc.
- Lawsuits , how do they work..
- Basics of Tax law (very basic)
- Business law ( Corporations, Intellectual property etc.)
At the end of the day all civilized societies live within a legal framework , we should be given a basic grounding in that.
Health and Wellness
Surprisingly this topic I actually did have a health class, where we learned things like sex education and general health. Most what we covered were the very basics clinical side of healthcare, the fundamental working of human physiology (like “human body has 206 bones… etc.) but none of the practical concerns regarding our health .
What wasn’t covered were some of the more detailed topics of health and wellness one would need to face as an adult, particularly dealing with Health care, and how it works in the USA
- How does our healthcare systems work? Who pays for what
- Causes and prevention of some deadly diseases
- Best treatment options for common major and minor illnesses.
- What is a healthy lifestyle
- Healthy eating habits
The US Healthcare system is complex and currently ongoing vigorous debate within our government, Here’s a great Youtube series (HealthCare Triage) that does an excellent job of explaining and covering some of these topics. Perhaps the best episode to begin with is Understanding the us healthcare.
Working in IT and having always being fascinated with technology, learning technology is second nature to me, but I come across so many folk s my age and even younger that are either indifferent or clueless about technology, the further in age you go those of older generations are even more disinterested.
In western society will live in a very technologically connected world, this goes much further than just using an iPhone or computer, because of the prevalence of technology today. To give you an idea how different today’s younger generation have it , can you imagine in my day there was such a thing as computer class, where basics or turning on and using a PC were a high school class.. sounds quaint today doesn’t it. .
Youngsters today are intimately familiar with smartphones and computers and most things digital, those skills are learned many before entering Kindergarten , so we should focus on upcoming technologies and how they may impact their lives as they grow .
Some topics I would would wish were covered:
- Automation, things from self-driving cars, to automated factories, etc. and how that will affect their lives and livelihoods
- Genetics , how technologies, like CRISPR and Stem cells and a whole bunch of Biogen technologies will impact their future.
- Transportation innovations, why things like Hyperloop are the next big leap in transportation.
- Artificial Intelligence; how this powerful technology is likely to impact their lives.
- Something even further out…
Technology is ever-changing so these topics need to be refreshed very frequently. There are plenty of interesting TED Talks on these topics and this is the best place to go
This some somewhat of a generalized topic , but basically it comes down to teaching folks how to be engaged in their communicates, and how the be productive members of society, This could cover things like volunteerism, involvement in local governments, outreach and a whole host of of other social topics of how people can stay engaged, improve their local communities and help less fortunate folks.
So now I’ll get off my soapbox, and hope that some aspiring educational professionals will move the ball a little bit forward and help the up and coming generations of students gain practical everyday that will help us all.