By JADE BURCH
Let’s face it, school feels very out of touch with the outside world. The education system seems to think extensive algebra takes priority over skills that are important as an adult. As a senior, you may wander out into the world with only your high school education and wonder: “What now? How do I apply for housing? What even are taxes?” But you know about integers and variables if you managed to pay attention in class.
Life Skills classes are essential, and should be a mandatory course. Assistance after high school and school resources should be available and should be regularly emphasized to students. Curriculum can be outdated at times and if adjustments aren’t made, students won’t be the only ones affected.
Even if you get a Life Skills class in your schedule as an elective, the information is either too general or too specific. Students feel like it doesn’t apply to them, so they’re not engaged. We need a mixture of fixed and flexible curriculum that adapts to students.
Andy Simmons, a senior at Orangewood High School, says, “I feel current life skills classes are necessary, but they’re not well executed. The curriculum isn’t solid and the information is too specific to apply to students.”
Matthew Stewart, a Career Technical Education teacher at Orangewood, expresses his frustration with the curriculum and its coverage on economics and business.
“You get taught theories of the economic system, not where the money goes or how it works. Schools fail to teach you the basic economics of life,” said Stewart. “Current classes miss the mark, they teach you to be an employee for the rest of your life without moving up.”
There are different opinions on what curriculum should be in the classes.
“Helping students prepare for a more specific career path, taxes, how to buy a car are good ones,” Simmons says. “They need to teach students how to be eligible for an apartment. They also need child development education since it’s required for a lot of jobs.”
Stewart adds, “They should be teaching you guys what bare minimum is to survive financially and socially. Other things like the basics of banking and credit along with home and vehicle maintenance would be very useful as well.”
Staff have noted that the class should also teach social concepts to students, such as things they wished they learned earlier in life.
Stewart gives examples such as, “How to engage people in a civil manner and having an open mind. You need to understand your position in society and either be happy with it or change it.”
Jason Knight, a counselor at Orangewood, adds, “I wish I learned about finances and using business technology, like Email and Word. Being able to read official documents like paystubs, tax forms, and contracts saves you a lot of trouble.”
Stewart also notes the need for students to find other goals in life, emphasizing life isn’t all about money or success.
The question is, how do we keep students engaged? Most students will go straight into the workforce with their high school education and nothing else. They won’t learn any other life skills that high school relies on college to teach. Students may feel what is being taught doesn’t apply to them because they aren’t going to college.
“We need to make sure students know that they will encounter the scenarios that are taught in a life skills class no matter what,” says Knight.
School staff also feel that students need different services or classes. Field trips to help students get jobs, apply to colleges, and apply for other government services would be extremely useful. Even after high school, students who are on their own as new adults are lost and may need additional help programs.
“Students need more assistance with post high school situations,” said Knight.
Knight goes on to say that Career Centers are a great resource that goes unnoticed by students. They typically provide information about scholarships, financial aid, job opportunities, and college exploration. There are also other resources online that could aid students, but none of these things are stressed to students. So, these resources will continue to be overlooked unless staff worry less about academic classes and more about relevant skills.
If changes aren’t made, students will continue to go into society unprepared and knowledgeable of how the world functions. They will be easily taken advantage of by other members of society, creating a generation of people that don’t know their options. This isn’t just for the benefit of newly graduated students, this is for the benefit of our future society.