This Is Not Real Life

Valentina Salazar, Chief Copy Editor

Long school days and homework every night lead me to question the value of everything we learn. Graduation is near, and students are eager for change and constantly asked “What are you going to study” or “Are you going abroad?” For many, the answer is still “I don’t know.” The realization of the near future leads students to notice their lack of knowledge of basic life skills to become independent. A life skill or psycho-social competency is the ability to adapt and have a positive behavior to surpass the challenges of life. The school system lacks classes teaching these fundamental skills. This is unacceptable. Instead of being taught how to manage money, pay taxes and choose a degree, students tend to memorize information for a test which they will later forget. 

School teaches students information but does not teach them how to use it. Even though high school’s purpose is to prepare strong-minded, independent and successful students, it is not accomplishing this goal at all. According to The Guardian, “The proportion of people aged 20 to 34 who live with their parents has risen from 19.48% in 1997, equating to 2.4 million people, to 25.91% in 2017, equating to 3.4 million.” The percentage of young adults living with their parents has increased over the past few decades and this may be due to technological advances that have made humans lazier. Because we can now search the answer to everything on Google, we no longer have the incentive to work hard on learning about the unknown. Considering how rapidly the world is advancing, there should be no doubt that the school needs to push students towards schedules that correlate with their future careers and life in contemporary society. Furthermore, it would be wise to have a mandatory lifestyle class.

There is clearly a blank in the school’s curriculum. Kids struggle with real word responsibilities when transitioning from high school to college. Teenagers need to learn life skills in high school because many aren’t learning these at home. According to the company Business Wire, “95 percent of Americans agree that all U.S. high school students should have more opportunities to learn real-world skills and study programs like manufacturing, IT, business management and health care.” This statistic would be even worse when compared to Colombia. “In school, I had to take a home economics class were I learned how to cook, do laundry or sow. But I don’t see Columbus School students interested in that.” These honest words said by economics teacher, Brian Summers, depict the reality of students finding classes related to real-life unnecessary. But this is not always the case. Graduates from previous generations have decided to take six months to learn gastronomy, money-management, art, and new languages. 

What should high school teach us then? Despite learning formulas like the Pythagorean theorem in geometry may feel useless, these core courses are necessary to graduate. But there should be a balance. Learning skills such as home economics, nutrition, automobile maintenance, budgeting, cooking, credit, first aid, etiquette, household repairs, insurance, local government, negotiating, social media safety, stress management, survival skills, sustainability, and paying taxes, should be mandatory at school, as stated by thebestschools.org. “A personal finance class should be mandatory because it prepares students for when they no longer live with their families. In the end, the importance of the class is determined by the student and how much they actually learn and takeaway,” Summers said. The truth is in the end it depends on the student and how much they value what they learn. This is why schools should motivate students to learn more than just core courses. Students would be more successful in life if they were taught these essential skills at school.

If the school’s objective is to prepare its students for “the real world,” a curriculum shift needs to occur to teach the life skills that are falling through the gap. Prince Ea’s youtube video, “I sued the school system,” makes an eye-opening comparison of how everything from communication to transportation methods have changed, yet the school classrooms are the same. The Industrial Revolution happened two centuries ago. Let’s change our classrooms and student’s needs accordingly.