What Should We Be Teaching in Schools?


Isn’t it a pity that we’re forced to learn how to factor a quadratic equation in high school? I’d bet a very large percentage of us who learnt this invaluable skill can no longer do it. Indeed, as we rejoiced having finished our last ever high school mathematics exam, we probably began purging our brains of this completely worthless ability almost immediately.

How many of us, in the last six months, have reflected upon the implications of the French Revolution or the various civil wars of history? How many of you who studied the ancient civilisations in high school regularly recall and make use of your knowledge of Egyptology?

High school, for most of us, was a game. For me, and likely for many others, the aim of the game was to finish senior year with a reasonable final result while balancing other commitments. I wanted to find the perfect equilibrium: to get the best possible result for doing the smallest possible amount of work.

If you ask most high school students whether they “like” school, you’d probably get a resounding number of kids who resent being there every day. The problem is that the current system is configured in such a way to drain students of enthusiasm for learning. A school day becomes a resentful enduring.

Learning should be something people do because they enjoy the process of acquiring knowledge. When we force children to attend school, we’re effectively smothering any authentic desire to learn they may be naturally harbouring. We don’t force people into copulation; that’s rape. So why are we forcing knowledge and learning down the throats of our youth? Instead, we should be seducing their minds by flaunting the scantily clad exports of a good education in front of them.

To sum up, our current education system is horribly mechanised. The five years of your high school career culminate in a single number that determines how well you played the game or rather, how well the game played you. We need an education renaissance. People used to seek out learning for enjoyment. Today’s youth resent the idea of learning and this is a direct function of the hypocrisy of today’s education system.

I’m not saying we should make education optional. Everyone should be delivered a very basic level of education. Such an education ought make no mention of quadratic equations, however. It’d include basic literacy and arithmetic and then seek to inspire youth to pursue higher forms of education at their own discretion based on their own interests.

Below are a list of topics we should definitely be teaching in schools.

Logic, Critical Thinking, & Scepticism

Could you imagine how improved our political landscape would be if everyone in high school learnt how to formulate a valid argument? If people could immediately see the logical flaws within poor arguments and question things before accepting them? We’d be able to filter out a remarkable amount of the bullshit that permeates our society today. If everyone was a free thinker, not inheriting or subscribing to any ideology because people told them to but because they’d thought about it long and hard themselves.

People need to come up with their own values in life. From an early age, people need to think about how they want to live their lives and how to operate as an independent agent in the world. Kids should be taught to challenge what they’re taught. Kids should question what is righteous and why it is righteous.

Relationships, Emotional Maturity, & Communication

It’s no mystery that the quality of your relationships has perhaps the most potent positive correlation on your overall happiness. We should be taught how to communicate with different people, how to foster different kinds of relationships, and how to deal with emotional turmoil. Anxiety and depression are highly prolific in today’s society effecting roughly 20% of the Australian population. Teaching our youth how to speak about these issues as well as support others is something all teenagers should learn.

Personal Finances

Uni students who I’ve talked to all seem to wish they’d learnt about this in high school. How do taxes work? How should I save, invest, and spend my money? It’s so obviously something that needs to be taught to high school students and yet still fails to make its way into the syllabus…

Diet, Nutrition, & Cooking

Regardless of how fast our society is developing, regardless of how technology is rapidly changing the way we live, we still need to eat. Heart disease is the number one killer. People should be taught from an early age basic nutritional concepts, the pros and cons of certain diets, and how to prepare food efficiently.

Creativity – Art, Music, & Self Expression

At the school I went to, children were forced to wear a uniform to school. They are told to walk in two straight lines, and not to speak unless spoken to. You’d get militaristic enforcement of policy regarding hair, make up, jewellery, and presentation. What language you use to express yourself is also policed. Also controlled were the areas on campus you ate in, the grass you walked on, and what extracurricular activities you participated in.

These are examples of the suffocating imposition of outdated ideals not suited to a progressive liberal society. We need to stop treating children like probationary adults and start respecting them as the independent agents in this world. Teachers should facilitate the autonomous development of students like we see in university.

Conclusion

Today’s education system is horrifically inefficient and misaligned with the progressive values of a fast-paced society. Children are learning things for absolutely no reason and we’re wasting years of valuable contact hours with the malleable minds of our future. Kids have no authentic desire to learn or better themselves and this is a direct result of today’s foolishly misguided educational enterprise.

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