by ALEX HAAS '21
School teaches us many of the fundamental things we need to know before graduating high school including math, science, English, discipline, and more. However, not everything that is worth knowing is taught in school. Below is a list of life skills that I think schools should place a bigger emphasis on
Very few people have the acquired skill to publicly speak or keep up a conversation with adults. While many classes require its students to stand up and present in front of the class, many of those speeches are quite awkward and they do not prepare us for the real world. It does not help us when we have to hold a conversation with another adult, when we have to speak in an interview, or even when we have a big presentation to do at our future jobs. Additionally, many students are already working and need to know how to have a formal interview with a potential employer. A possible solution to this is creating a club that teaches students tips for an interview and then having mock interviews for practice.
How to Handle Money/Personal Finances
While the Budget Challenge in our Economics class is a step in the right direction, the majority of students remain very confused about their personal finances after graduation. At a minimum, students should be taught the significance of investing, saving, how credit cards work, how to properly budget, how to avoid debt, how insurance works, how to be prepared for emergencies, and how student loans work. A simple personal finance elective could potentially help students from making very bad financial decisions in the future.
Learning from Failure
Generally speaking, students are punished for making mistakes in the classroom. Whether we answer a question wrong in class and are afraid to speak up again or we fail a test and have to meet with a teacher, students are taught failure is bad and we should avoid it at all costs. In reality, failure is good. Failure is what pushes us to succeed and often teaches us the most valuable lessons. While some teachers respond well to mistakes, others don’t. Either way, failure should be used as a tool and teachers should help students learn from their failures rather than using fear tactics to avoid it.
Negotiating is something we have been doing our whole lives, and it is something we are going to have to continue doing. For example, I’m sure you have negotiated with your parents to convince them to let you sleepover at a friend’s house or buy you that thing you didn’t need. However, many people do not know how to do it. Some things that will be helpful to know include how to negotiate, what to negotiate for, good questions to ask, and how to persuade others. Returning to the mock interview club idea, I think a negotiation aspect would be very beneficial. For example, during the interview, students will have to negotiate for the starting salary they want. Until then, there are many videos online that help explain negotiating and tips to go along with it.
Critical thinking is a very important skill to have in life. It enables us to develop thought-out opinions and ideas even when not all of the information is provided. In my opinion, SUA does a pretty good job with this, as our Literature classes force us to really think about what we are reading and write argumentative essays. Our math classes, while we have to memorize formulas, also force us to think and apply those formulas to different situations. However, not all schools place a big emphasis on critical thinking. Hopefully in the near future, more and more schools will develop their curriculum to emphasize critical thinking.