More Things That Should be Taught in High School

Just thinking of other things that everyone should know or at least have basic knowledge of once they turn 18… I know it’s idealistic, but it’s something we as Americans should strive to teach our own children.

1. Houses/Apartments – How to buy a house or rent an apartment should be something that’s taught everywhere. Lots of people get confused about mortgages, interest rates, and other things that come into account when looking for a home. I wish I had been taught these things.

2. World Religions/Cultures (including atheism and agnosticism) – This relates directly to this article. In order to be more open-minded and understanding of others, all Americans should be taught about the value of other beliefs and cultures. And not knowing about these things just makes us look stupid as a country…

3. Organization/Time Management Skills – Some people are born to be organized, even to the point of near-OCD, (I’m like that; everything has to be exactly in its place for me.) but others need a little help in that area. Managing time is especially important for the workforce. There’s so much out there that grabs our attention and sucks our time (Facebook, anyone?) that we really need to be mindful of how we spend the time we have.

Got any more you’d like to add to the list? Let me know! πŸ™‚

EDIT: Wow… I just found out I got Freshly Pressed… *blushes* Thank you for all your comments already – and I should have added a link to my previous post on this subject… so here it is:

150 thoughts on “More Things That Should be Taught in High School

  1. Finances! Like how to balance your bank account. How to set up a basic budget and live within your means. How to save for things instead of racking up credit card debt. How to start saving for retirement when you’re young. It always amazes me how many people do not have any idea what is in their bank account or what they would need to earn to cover their financial obligations. I think the country (any country!) would be in a better condition if individuals knew how to be more responsible with their own finances.

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  2. Great list, and I totally agree that real-life skills need to be taught starting in K-12. I’d add money management skills as part of a revamped “Home Ec” that everyone (guys and gals) would be required to take — no more excuses for not knowing how to cook a meal, do laundry, or get an oil change!

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!

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      1. Ah, so you did — didn’t see the “More” up there. Even better job, then, and a constructive suggestion: you might want to add a hot link (“in my last installment…”) to avoid having to repeat this conversation now that you’re Pressed πŸ™‚

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    1. That’s a question I really wish I had an answer to… I know that when I was in elementary school, the teachers did “notebook checks” to see if the contents of our binders were well-organized. In middle school, we had to write all our assignments and extra-curriculars down in an agenda and have the teacher sign off on it every day. I don’t know how effective these methods of teaching were, but I know that my high school didn’t continue teaching these skills.

      It’s probably something that parents (as a child’s primary teachers) would have to teach and instill in the kids.

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  3. I think just being in High School (sports, homework, exams, extra-curricular activities) teaches time management skills. Being involved in so many things really teaches you responsibility.

    School’s do teach other countries religions and cultures. More so culture than religion. But, if we are teaching religion, many parents will take the viewpoint of, “my child shouldn’t have to learn about a religion other than their own.”

    That’s my opinion. Great post! πŸ˜€

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  4. There should be a whole section on personal finance: how to handle credit cards, budgeting, all that stuff. It would also be nice if every kid got a minimal level of cooking and cleaning knowledge before they graduated, but I expect that’s way too practical to ever show up on a standardized test, so never gonna happen. It’s too bad.

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      1. Sorry, I just stumbled in from Freshly Pressed–I missed the earlier post. Congratulations on a though-provoking series, though! I’ve been pondering this all morning. Actually, I think the one thing kids most need to learn is critical thinking. That’s something that’s supposed to be taught (I assume) but isn’t getting through nearly enough, especially in the present climate of lies, wildly spun news, and rewritten history lessons.

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        1. That’s right. “Critical thinking” was supposedly something we had to master in high school, but there are lots of kids who still don’t know how to make the right decisions and pick out the false from the true. Thank you for your comments! πŸ™‚

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      1. I totally agree with your reply. In fact it is a common fact that many credit card companies have tables setup during registration at most colleges and universities each semister so they can prey on these inexperienced young adults. Many a student has gotten themselves in trouble because of “free” credit cards with high interest charges and high credit limits to sucker them in! Dont have money for books? Well, just charge them at the book store with this free approved and activated charge card! Just sign here. Need a laptop or new clothes…no problem! Get it now, worry later!

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        1. Worry later – when you’re deep in credit card debt. It’s a shame that credit card companies do this. Hopefully more and more college students will become aware of it. Thanks for your comment! πŸ™‚

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  5. Perhaps this goes along with your #3, or perhaps it is already taught in high schools (but was not in mine), but I would suggest personal and/or household budgeting. Based on my observations, I think that an ability to easily organize money in/out and understand basic budgeting principles (and to apply them to “real life”) comes more easily to some than others.

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  6. The only lesson I wish I had learned in high school is that you should follow your interests and/or passions to choose what you will do as a working adult. We need to drop the fallacy that only a handful of careers are worthwhile. We need to get parents to stop cattle driving their children into law, medicine and engineering. (I’m an engineer, so I’m not speaking as a disenchanted liberal arts major with a chip on my shoulder.)

    Items #1 and #3 above are easily sorted out by a young person with common sense. For those with no common sense, I advise their parents to start talking about life’s logistics (item #1) a year or two before the child has to live on his/her own. Item #3 should be taught in an age appropriate way by both parents and teachers starting in elementary school.

    As for #2, the biggest influence I know of in that area are a child’s parents. I advise the parents to never make denigrating comments about people of other race, cultures and/or religions, so the child doesn’t take for granted this is what people do. Parents should not paint the US as all knowing and all powerful so their children learn to respect other countries as well. I also recommend encouraging your child to read. Reading diverse material presents the child with broad views if it’s not possible to do it in their own life (e.g., by having friends of other cultures, gay friends, etc.). My parents did an excellent job as far as teaching me item #2.

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    1. I completely agree with everything you say here. Parents should definitely be their child’s first teachers, but lots of parents are pressed for time these days, so the school system should do its best to pick up the slack… even though with budget cuts and everything else, that’s not always possible.

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    1. I totally agree, especially with the last one – so important now with all the processed food on the market – and how big the Internet’s getting. It seems like nobody goes outside anymore! Thank you for commenting! πŸ™‚

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  7. Definitely agree with point 1! It’s a means of survival. Very likely, everyone will face a situation where they have to buy or rent a house or apartment at one point of time in their life.

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  8. Some schools are teaching these things. I work for an organization that teaches a career-focused curriculum on themes including finance. It is certainly an important piece of the bigger education reform debate that should be included.

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  9. Etiquette! As a current college student, it always amazes me how inconsiderate most young people are. People are too busy to hold the door and pick up their cell phones on dates. Esepcially with all the new technologies out there, I think there should be etiquette taught on how to use them. Along with that, etiquette for job interviews. It is a necessary skill, and I’m always in shock by how seemingly nonchalant interviewees act about the whole process.

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    1. I totally agree. I can hardly comprehend how unaware people my age are about things like manners and respect ( I guess it’s an ego thing–“I’m better than everyone else because i’m a college student now!”). I think everyone, even older people could benefit from learning some basic etiquette πŸ™‚

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      1. That’s true. There are so many people who think they’re all that just because they have a college degree. Humility is so important! Thank you for commenting! πŸ™‚

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    2. True. It’s really sad when you’re trying to have a conversation with someone and they keep sending text messages while you’re talking. Thank you for your comment! πŸ™‚

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  10. Sorry Maggie, I want to subscribe by email to your blog, so I can know when there is update. Apparently, you need to submit comment in order to be able to “Subscribe by email to this site”. — You should ignore this comment.

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  11. Nice post. I also wish I had been taught goal-setting and job search skills in high school, rather that having to learn them the hard way on my own. And every human being should learn how to cook for themselves.

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    1. Exactly. But for some people, learning the hard way is the only way they’ll ever learn – and retain the information! Thank you for commenting! πŸ™‚

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  12. So true. Not only should high schools teach the liberal arts (math, science, english, etc.) but they should also teach LIFE SKILLS that are real-world applicable. Now that I myself am beginning the rigorous search for an apartment, I wish I had taken a class on real estate in high school instead of Environmental Science!

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    1. Absolutely right. I worked as a receptionist in a real estate office and realized how little I know about buying a house or property. So much of what’s being taught in schools is based on a medieval curriculum that’s barely relevant.

      Thanks so much for your comment! πŸ™‚

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  13. Basic Car Repair – how to handle oil changes, flat tires, checking fluid levels. Along with that – what to do in emergency car situations – overheating, stalls, etc.

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      1. In my ideal world, everybody would have to learn this stuff – or have some kind of microchip implanted in the brain that holds the information! Thanks for commenting! πŸ™‚

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    1. Driver’s Ed classes should be revamped so they teach these things as well as just rules of the road. That’s a blog for another day!

      Thank you for commenting! πŸ™‚

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  14. I think some high school students already have PhD’s in arguing and excuses. I want Personal Responsibility added to every syllabus nationwide. Owning your mistakes. Admitting and acknowledging you were wrong. It is just so very much easier to learn and grow when you are free to admit you are a flawed human that does actually make mistakes.

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    1. Exactly. I would hope that most teens/young adults grow out of their self-centeredness as they get older. Thank you for commenting! πŸ™‚

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  15. Hmm…my only suggestion is that Twitter, Facebook, Internet and MySpace are NOT NOT NOT skills that should be added to a resume. You may have covered learning how to do a real resume in a previous post about what should be taught in school…but if not…there you have it. Those aren’t skills!

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    1. Knowing how to use social networking sites can be very important, especially since more and more companies are utilizing social media for marketing purposes. But there’s a huge difference between using FB, Twitter, etc. constructively and just plain wasting time.

      Thanks for your comment! πŸ™‚

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  16. I agree with beingglizbreen above – etiquette, or even just basic conversation skills. Some adolescents have a hard time with small talk (er, sometimes I do, too).

    Another thing: general auto maintenance. Yes, it’s easy enough to take your car to the shop for an oil change. It’s not all that easy to change a tire if you’ve never done it before. Both things should be mandatory.

    Then again, where are they going to find the time to teach these things when there’s so much emphasis on standards, and a number of high schoolers can still barely even write an essay? I guess a lot of it comes back to the parents, as someone commented above.

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    1. Yes, you’re right. There’s so much time wasted on teaching students how to perform well on standardized tests rather than teaching them how to operate and perform in real life. As someone else said, the system really needs to change. And auto maintenance would be extremely helpful and save money on all those repair bills! Thank you for commenting! πŸ™‚

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    2. They tought some when i was in HS but ur so right with all these prices going up we should start DIY right its will sace for retiriment
      You right but on the other had some people dont like getting their hands durty they refuse to do it.

      Paul

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  17. Personal Finances were taught in my school. But it didn’t match what the government was telling people they needed to do to keep the economy moving. In fact, I remember reading articles that called people who did what we were taught in high school ‘Horders’ and that they were detrimental to the economy and the country.

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    1. That’s why (as another poster mentioned) critical thinking skills are important, too. Kids need to know how to discern the truth from the lies. Sometimes what’s mandated or approved by the government isn’t always best. Thanks so much for commenting! πŸ™‚

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  18. I agree with previous comments regarding etiquette and how to behave in social/interview situations, but something I was taught in school and was amazed that my little brother couldn’t do (because he’d never been taught it) is change a plug! Other things are locate the fuse box and be able to change a fuse, locate and know how to turn on/off the water and gas supply to your house. It’s one thing being able to rent a place, but what will you do when you accidentally plug too many appliances into one socket and blow all the electrics in the place?!?!?!?!?
    http://ayearinmyshoes.wordpress.com

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    1. I agree. Basic home maintenance/repairs should be taught to everyone – male and female. It’d save a ton of money on repair bills. Thank you for commenting! πŸ™‚

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    1. So true. College students have a lot that divides their attention, so knowing how to prioritize is a must.

      Thanks for your comment! πŸ™‚

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    1. Another good skill to know. Too much is competing for our attention these days – I think that’s why all these kids are being diagnosed with ADHD.

      Thank you for commenting! πŸ™‚

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  19. Interesting post. I definately agree in teaching world issues. Grade schools focus on European history and learning about other cultures will be very beneficial to everyone. I also believe in teaching high school students the art of networking and communication–both are very important.

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    1. I think there’s too much focus on European history in education in the US and not enough focus on Asia, Africa, and especially the Middle East. I agree with you on networking and communication – especially since it’s extremely difficult to get a job these days without a solid network.

      Thank you for your comment! πŸ™‚

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    1. Absolutely. Too many people don’t know the first thing about buying a car or getting a loan. It’s such a shame.

      Thank you for commenting! πŸ™‚

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    2. My high school economics teacher, (Mr. Tavitian. I think was his name, we called him Mr. T) taught us how to buy a car. I’ve used his technique with great success. My husband & I are grateful to him all these years later.

      A good teacher makes all the difference!

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  20. How about just reading, writing and arithmetic? Everything else you learn, you get there by knowing the three well, first.

    Frankly we as a society have come to rely too heavily on public education to teach our children many things we should as parents and family be teaching our children.

    Certainly I’m not saying we should be able to teach our children chemistry or English Literature or Speech per se, but a lot of the “life” things surely.

    Anyway, there’s already Civics, economics and Home Ec. that are supposed to teach a lot of what you and others are pointing out. A good social studies program would cover a lot of other things as it covers history, geography, humanities, anthropology, sociology, etc.

    Instead, most school systems put social studies and home ec. at the bottom, just above music and art. And yet, still, for all of the money poured in, nationally the US still lags in many of the basics, such as math, science and reading/writing. Clearly the whole public education system needs massive reform, and more money and technology is not the answer.

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    1. You’re right; all of that stuff is taught, but it’s not taught to be put to use in reality. It’s taught so that students can do well on standardized tests. The US puts so much emphasis on those tests that common-sense stuff is mostly ignored, or teachers don’t have time for it because they’re spending so much time preparing students for the tests.

      Thank you for your input! πŸ™‚

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  21. I have a friend who once told me that when he was young it seemed like his parents “knew stuff”, and he thought when he got older he would also “know stuff.” Well, he’s in his 30s now, and he wonders, “When am I going to KNOW stuff?”
    I maintain that there is now MORE to know…so it’s hard to keep up. But as you point out in these posts, there are many things one needs to know as a adult–as My 18 year old is finding out slowly–and most of them are not taught.
    Other ideas: how insurance works, laws (ignorance is no excuse, but we are not taught what most of the laws are–like what constitutes assault, how copyrights work, etc.).

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    1. I love both your ideas – it’s so important to know and understand both laws and insurance because they can get so complicated. Unscrupulous lawyers and insurance agents can use a person’s lack of knowledge against them, so yes – both are very valuable to know! Thanks for your comment! πŸ™‚

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  22. One of the classes I still remember (and I graduated long time ago) is how to write a check to pay bills. I don’t remember anything else from that class, but vividly remember this one. Life skills are not included included and they really need to be.
    So glad to hear you mentioned management skills. I just wrote a blog about it, OCD, lack of focus, kind of from a light hearted perspective. Take a look. http://wp.me/pDBOX-1H. or just go to nadamarriott.wordpress.com

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  23. Congrats on being freshly pressed.

    Love both of the posts, but I take slight issue with it: parents should be teaching their kids this type of stuff way before their kid should be in high school. ALL high school teachers have enough stuff to worry about. Everything that you listed are things that we, as adults have had experience with, or do on a daily basis. If you have young kids, they need to be apart of that, regardless of how mundane and (possibly) boring for them it might be. If it’s going to be boring for them, it needs to be made fun enough that it holds their attention. The parent will always be the child’s first teacher, if the child in question doesn’t know about any of the stuff that you have written about, then that first teacher didn’t do their job did they?

    Cheers!

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    1. You’re absolutely right. Parents should be the child’s primary teachers – and yes, they should try to teach kids as much about that stuff as possible when they’re growing up. Thank you for commenting! πŸ™‚

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  24. Some of those subjects traditionally fell into the realm of parents and personal experience, and not into the realm of the education system. But as the old saying goes, “like father, like son”, I see too many bad habits perpetuated from the parents to the child. There are plenty of things that I recognize as personal weaknesses, but I also recognize as personal weaknesses of my parents, but yet these subjects are difficult to teach from a textbook.

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    1. That is very true. The parent should always be the child’s first (and primary) teacher, but not all parents are naturally good teachers. And personal weaknesses can always be worked on later in life. Thanks for your comment! πŸ™‚

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  25. One principle that really needs to be taught in High School is Delayed Gratification. No one is willing
    work for something
    wait for something
    Everyone wants everything now.

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    1. The hardest thing with teaching kids organizational skills is getting them to keep on using them, even when they’re out of school. Don’t know how that would be accomplished exactly, but…

      Thank you for your comment! πŸ™‚

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    2. The hardest thing with teaching kids organizational skills is getting them to keep on using them, even when they’re out of school. Don’t know how that would be accomplished exactly, but…

      Thank you for your comment! πŸ™‚

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    1. That’s true. It’s so important to have job-searching skills, especially with the economy being the way it is. Thanks for commenting! πŸ™‚

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  26. What kinds of insurance you need. auto and health. Taking risks and what those risks mean.

    Automotive repair and what to do to get good information.

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  27. I wish I had learned something about investing. Stocks, bonds, etc. – it’s all Greek to me! And now that I’m an adult and supposed to be saving, I have no idea how to do it.

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  28. In addition to general critical thinking, I would add ethical reasoning. This would not be just a matter of telling the students what is right or wrong, but giving them the tools to actually reason about ethical matters.

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  29. Grocery bagging. At some time during your life you are going to need to be able to put things in a bag without mashing the bananas or a loaf of bread.

    My favorite teacher was an ex-Marine who taught us about life and living with other people as much as he taught us “school.” He also tested us to see where we were in reading and obtained workbooks for us based on our reading level–not our grade. He didn’t get along well with administration, but he was a d–n fine teacher.

    Once there is a pattern for teaching all that teachers will be taught is the pattern. What we need is for individuals to teach individuals, and teachers that care about teaching and reaching students.

    It is said that we can’t improve that which we cannot measure. We need to make sure we are measuring productive law-abiding human beings and not a test score filed away on a server somewhere.

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  30. Great post!! All of these are very important skills that NEED to be taught however, I personally feel that the responsibility should be shared by the parents and schools. I’m not going to go into a rant about what is wrong with our education system, but there is plenty of room for improvement and at the same time there are plenty of educators who deserve accolades. It’s weeding through the two groups where we suffer the most! My daughter, currently a HS sophomore, had the good fortune of attending a seminar with a couple of young men, Ken & Kyle Healy, who have written the book “Cool Stuff They Should Teach in School.” They touched upon many of these subjects — from finance to communication to job hunting to life choices. A few other books that I might recommend are “1,001 Things Every Teen Should Know Before They Leave Home (or else they’ll come back)” by Harry Harrison which includes some very important subjects mixed with some humor and some suggestions which are obviously included in the book as filler material. Sean Covey wrote “7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” — another great resource for parents and teens.

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    1. I’m just saying that atheism and agnosticism as belief systems should not be ignored. There are lots of people who don’t know how atheists and agnostics differ. Thank you for your comment! πŸ™‚

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  31. I think that we have put way too much focus on stuffing kids heads with information. The world is changing so rapidly that it is a bit unrealistic to say that we can know what they will need 20 or 30 years from now. What is the point in learning how to rent an apartment or buy a house when things will have likely changed so much by the time they get there that they will think they will know what they’re doing but they won’t? We need to teach them how to learn and find things out for themselves without having it spoon fed to them in a classroom.
    What we need, is to focus on developing minds that can think, which would mean both sides of the brain instead of primarily the left. That way, they will be capable of developing whatever life-skills they need as they need them, throughout their whole lives.

    I absolutely agree with number two. I think that respect and compassion is one thing that is missing more than anything in the world today. How many problems would we not have if we valued kindness most of all?
    Congratulations on making it to Freshly Pressed!

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  32. Being a former teacher I agree with your additions to the highschool curriculum. I tried to teach some organization skills to my upper elementary students and had a great response from the community. Good luck with your writing, by the way. I am also an aspiring writer. I write hist fic.

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  33. Civics and the role of individuals in democracy. I’m constantly shocked at the number of people who vote based on a NIMBY philosophy, rather than basing their votes on what is best for their community, their province or state and their country as a whole.

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  34. I completely agree with World Religions/Culture – a recent article came out saying that atheists/agnostics were the most knowledgeable about religions, I would think because they take it upon themselves to research what they are deciding not to believe in. It would be good to teach understanding and tolerance as well.
    I REALLY think there should be some sort of class related to taking care of your body – like Health, only a little more comprehensive, and required for multiple years. I mean, you could have an owner’s manual as long as the friggin bible for the human body, and obviously Americans aren’t taking it upon themselves to learn about it. It seems like the most important subject, right?

    ~Sophie
    http://habitualme.wordpress.com

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