3/04/2014

Teaching Tuesday: Higher Learning

I have never actually taught high school or college. I subbed in a high school for one day, in the resource room. I've also tutored a couple of high school students and I had a college-aged education student in my classroom for a while. But I don't really have any professional expertise in this area.



Except, of course, the fact that I went to high school and college. Neither prepared me to be a functional adult. Here's an abbreviated list of things I did not learn, but are required for functional, educated adults:

1. How to understand mortgages, interest rates and checkbook balancing.
2. How to choose car insurance.
3. How to understand health insurance. 
4. How to write a resume.
5. How to write a cover letter.
6. How to write a business plan.
7. How to budget.
8. First aid and CPR.
9. How to analyze statistics.
10. Any African, South American,  Asian or ancient history. (it's worth noting that I was a history major in college)
11. The basic tenets of world religions. (Technically, I did learn these in college, in an elective class that hardly anyone else took.)
12. How to speak another language, or several other languages, well enough to get along in a foreign country.
13. How a car works and/or at least basic car maintenance.
14. How to handle a job interview.
15. Anything about computers. Not that it would be relevant now, but still.
16. How to cook, sew or repair anything.
17. How to make a presentation.
18. Any kind of media literacy.
19. Public speaking strategies.
20. The metric system.


Also, I didn't learn to dress appropriately under my graduation gown. 




I did learn a few things that have come in useful (beyond the fact that I can't drink Jaegermeister without deeply regretting it the next day and that doing your own laundry sucks):

1. Cultural literacy. I read a lot of Shakespeare and other famous (mostly white, mostly male) authors. I also saw a lot of classic movies, listened to all kinds of music and tried cuisines from all over the world.
2. How to take excellent notes.
3. How to write a grammatically correct paper very quickly.
4. American and European history from the Middle Ages onward.
5. How various kinds of birth control work.

And a few more things that have not come up again in my life:
1. Higher level algebra
2.  Volleyball
3. Trigonometry
4. How to conjugate verbs in French (never used, despite visits to several different French-speaking countries).
5. Chemistry
6. The ability to dissect small animals (one could argue that this would be useful for future surgeons, but I'm pretty sure using computer programs of the human body would be a lot more useful - for everyone - than an intimate knowledge of frog anatomy)
7. Knowing the names and major works of every Renaissance artist (and thus I lost any interest I'd had in art history).


The reason I bring all this up, besides my bitterness about being forced to play volleyball for an entire semester of gym class, is that it doesn't sound like high schools are doing much better today in preparing their students for functional adulthood. When you talk to people who teach college, or graduates looking to get a job with a future, you hear nothing but complaints. Hell, look at most job listings; the skills companies want are rarely covered by common curricula, especially at the high school level.  Time Magazine's February 24th cover story talks about how one group of public high schools is looking to change that, and that's what got me started on this rant.

The former teacher in me has a strong urge to write a comprehensive list of things I would like my kids to know by the time they graduate from high school and another list of things I would like them to know by the time they graduate from college. Because by judging from my first list (which totally could have kept going), there's a lot of important stuff that their high school (despite it's great reputation) is not going to teach them. And if either of them winds up a liberal arts major in college, well, we're going to have cover even more stuff.

Which is not to say that I don't think kids should learn the liberal arts, or the math that will lead some of them into engineering and whatnot. I just think we need to balance it with some practical stuff.

Did you feel prepared for adulthood after high school and/or college? Did you learn more practical stuff than I did?



44 comments:

Cococute Manaloto said...

while scholl might be a good foundation of adulthood there are still people who are famous and wealthy that did not really finish their college. School might be a place to develop your individuality but your personal attitude still the one that will bring you up in the society.

Marcie Livesay, owner of Chicago Urban Tails, LLC said...

I completely agree with you and high school needs to do a better job prepping for the real world and not all of those crazy tests. We have a high school admin in our office and when I asked her to mail something for me, she didn't know how to address an envelope! Yikes!

Kelli Avery said...

I feel pretty much the same way as you. I have a daughter getting ready to graduate high school next year!! Some of the things on your list crack me up and others make me wonder if she has any idea.. Definitely going to be one heck of a ride the next couple years...

AdinB said...

Well, I sure didn't feel like I was ready to go to College when I graduated. I felt like there were so many things that I needed to learn before going to College. I am from the Philippines and our Education there is different than Education here in the US. I would love to go to school someday though when my kids are all going to school and I no longer need to be a SAHM. There are so many things I would love to learn and learning new language(s) would be wonderful.

Yona Williams said...

Cool post.

I agree with you on #1 about the interest rates and mortgages. I still avoid those 'tricky' percentages. Math is not my strong suit. I'd also like to add that I am clueless about doing my taxes...although I'd like to do my own one of these days.

Health/sex education classes really did stick with me, especially when they showed those gruesome STD pictures.

I became an English major in college...and all of my high school English has stuck in my mind, and I remember a lot of my paper topics and assignments.

I didn't have to take physics or calculus in high school, and I wish that I did.

Becka M said...

I agree there is so much school should be teaching instead of what it does!

Masshole Mommy said...

Do you have any idea how many times I think to myself as I am helping my 4th grader with his math homework that he shouldn't struggle so much because he's literally never going to use this stuff in "real" life, but I hold back like a good mother.

Lisa Joy Thompson said...

I have 2 daughters in high school right now and have been impressed with some of the things the school is teaching them. They are required to go through a course on finances which teaches them how to budget, the importance of saving, etc. They also had to do a resume and several mock interviews! We've also been trying to walk them through many of the things they'll be required to know once they are out of school!

Veronica Spriggs - Digiscrap Boutique said...

I was very naive right after high school and in no way prepared for the real world. College helped with that some but there is no substitute for experience.

Krystal Bernier said...

I completely agree. It is up to us parents to teach our kids the skills to make them functioning and successful members of society.

Tiffany C. said...

This totally reminds me of those write a letter to yourself posts when you're young, but opposite. I like your list, I agree with most of what you have listed. Great post.

BrettBMartin said...

I learned a whole lot about different kinds of alcohol in college. And why I should never have jello shots EVER again.

Clara Homeschooler said...

I am thankful to be able to teach my children those things you listed that they need to know. I think it's difficult for public schools to offer all of these things do to lack of time. When homeschooling, time is not an issue. :-)

Amy Albers said...

I think public schools suffer from having to try to please everyone and end up pleasing few. When I homeschooled, we had much more leeway to adapt subjects into practical life lessons!

Kecia said...

You raise a very good point here! Students should be learning more real-life, practical tasks along with their academic studies. There are far too many things in the curriculum these days that no one will use once they graduate!

Mandy Carter said...

There are a few things on your list that I did learn in High school like stats, resumes, budgets, CPR, etc. I was a Communication major in College so I had a huge amount of Public Speaking, presentations,computer classes, etc. So I think it really depends on the schools one attends and the majors that you choose.

There are a few things on your list that I do not feel is the responsibility of the Education System to teach kids like cooking and sewing (yet my middle school offered both. Parents need to be held accountable for life survival teachings. My parents taught be about money and budgeting so that I could be a responsible adult. Teachers do not have time or get paid enough to be held accountable for everything that a child needs to know to become a successful adult. Some knowledge you have to seek on your own!

bxcrochet said...

That is so true. I never even thought about not learning those things in school.

Michelle F.

Alesha @ Full Time Mama said...

I completely agree with you about what's being taught in schools. I think it's hard to balance it all in such a short amount of time though, especially with so many students. I was blessed to have parents and family who taught me a lot of the things I needed to know in life so I didn't feel horribly unprepared, thankfully. I hope to teach my kids all they need to know so they feel prepared as well!

Rachael Ebner said...

This is a good list you made. I wish they would make basic car maintenance and repair a mandatory class. It sure would have helped me out.

Sippy Cup Mom said...

Interesting! I felt prepared after high school but I learned a ton at my first job. They trained me in customer service and all the business stuff I know.

Young At Heart Mommy said...

I know I personally HATED mathematics in school and never knew why or how I would use what I was learning in the coming years. To this day I have yet to understand how learning trigonometric functions has helped me function!

Lisa said...

Nope They Used To Teach All The Same Useless Stuff Back Then I Learned A Few Useful Things Thank God But I'm Glad They Are Changing Some Of It!!

Lolo @ Crazy About My Baybah said...

I think I learned so much in college, especially how to live on my own.

Liz Mays said...

We're definitely pushed out into the world without a lot of life skills. Crash course learning, I guess!

Jenni E. said...

That is a great list. Just yesterday I was scrolling through Facebook and saw the "new" way to do math. It was some sort of subtraction problem. The new way made absolutely no sense to me. I totally didn't get it.

Toni Patton said...

Great list. I remember learning quite a lot of that in my high school home ec class!!

Chrissy Boerman said...

oh how i agree. why are we not teaching kids things they will use as an adult. instead of algebra why not budgeting/money management?

Prototype Mama said...

I totally agree! I think most of our learning comes from real life experiences

Debra Rutt said...

there were so many things that college didn't prepare me for. Budgeting was probably the biggest. Most time schooling is great in theory, but crappy in practice.

Ashley said...

I went to a Christian high school and thankfully I did learn all of those things you mentioned in high school...with the exception of how to analyze statistics. I'm not quite sure why I need to know that though.

The public junior high I went to for two years taught me very little in any area.

Teresa Moody said...

I totally agree with your thoughts. I feel like the school system has let us down and that they seem to want us to do the teaching more then them.

Dina said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I went to college and was so unprepared. My son is about to graduate but he does seem much better prepared.

Krystal Butherus said...

I *loved* my World Religions class! It was a gigantic lecture hall packed with 400+ students. I agree with you on the other things that should be taught in school. I know financial education was nowhere to be seen!

mail4rosey said...

Reading, writing, and Math... all had their place. The rest didn't travel with me much, but that's okay. I had a great gram who gave me lots of tips/learning skills just by following her example. :)

Brandy said...

I so need to learn CPR, I hate that I never learned it. I always get so nervous about someone choking.

Candy said...

Omg I feel you. Schools are more focused on standardized tests than preparing students for real world situations. We are definitely always learning.. as children and as adults.

Maddi'sMommy said...

I have to agree. I think that as parents thats where we have to come in.

Alissa said...

I think it would be great to have some more practical skills taught in school. Coming from a media background, I especially agree with the idea that media literacy is a must!

Eliz Frank said...

It's a pity that this topic comes up again and again and our schools do nothing about it... All of those should at least be covered in a general life lessons class.

Chelsea Olivia said...

I wish school covered more "real-life" stuff. Yeah, it's great that you can do unrealistically difficult math equations, but do you know anything about filing taxes? It'd be great if I had come fresh out of high school with a lot of practical, life skills under my belt. Instead I had a hate for my math teacher and a huge dislike for poetry. Haha.

A Mom's Take said...

I absolutely think finances needs to be required in High School. I know I needed to learn those lessons!

Paige Nicole said...

I took a personal finance class in high school...and even that covered stocks and bonds...things an 18 year old just isn't interested in! It should have focused on more pertinent information!

Felicia Carter said...

I wish there was more time for creativity in schools. It can be very frustrating.

Cheap Is The *New* Classy said...

I took an African American History class in college, but I really don't know much myself, except what I learned in that class. Also, I knew very little about money when I moved out of my home as I was never given an allowance or knew anything about my parent's bills. It was a really tough eye opener for a while there.