It’s easy to take a lot of things for granted when you live in a developed country: public education, easy access to the internet, freedom of speech and alcohol. Specifically focusing on public education, it’s important to note that free access to schooling is an invaluable gift. Not too long ago, public education was uncommon and the large majority of individuals wishing to attend school had to pay a heavy price for it. Today, education across the Western world is easily accessible – and sometimes even mandatory – for children and young adults.
When speaking about public education I can, for the most part, speak from first-hand experience. I attended high school in British Columbia, Canada and I loved it. Honestly, I really did: the curriculum was diverse but straight-forward, and I probably ended up learning just as much from the students as I did from the teachers. However, it was only moments after tossing my graduation cap into the air that I realized how much I was never taught in school.
In total, students spend approximately 13,000 hours in school from Kindergarten up until grade 12. In that time, students learn a lot of important stuff: mathematics, sciences, languages, social studies, and my personal favourite, P.E. However, despite all these necessary lessons, it’s astounding to realize how many significant things students aren’t taught, from understanding how taxes and mortgages work to how one can register to vote. These are the top 10 essential things that students should be taught in public school.
10. How to Do Taxes.
Benjamin Franklin once said that nothing is certain in this world, except death and taxes. Taxes are indeed a fact of life that almost everyone have to deal with, and often they can prove to be more annoying than slow wi-fi. However, it’s taxes that make public services possible. As taxes are both a reality of life and a necessary component for modern societies, it’s incredible that public schools give no lessons whatsoever on how to deal with them. If anything, individuals should be taught about taxes at a younger age so that they won’t be as stressed and frustrated by the process when they’re older.
9. Basic Lessons on Survival.
Ever been home playing a video game or making the dinner to be surprised by the electricity going out? Ever arrived home to find the water’s no longer running or the gas won’t turn on? These situations occur daily and are usually resolved in a matter of hours by contacting the local service provider. However, it goes to prove how much we rely on things like electricity, heat, and water. What would we do if we were left without these necessities for more than a day? More than a week or a month? Majority of us would go insane after going just two days without access to Facebook and FIFA, let alone a fridge.
Although we live relatively well-off lives, that doesn’t mean we’re forever protected from natural disasters and catastrophes. For this reason, it should be common sense for public schools to teach students how to survive when basic services either fail or are unattainable. A survival course could include teaching students how to build shelters, locate clean drinking water, and build fires. At the very least, a course of this kind would give students a chance to work outside the confines of a classroom and learn from first-hand experience.
8. How to Vote and Engage in the Democratic Process.
If there’s a gift more invaluable than that of education, it’s having the ability to vote. As only 123 out of 192 countries are considered democratic, we should take advantage of the freedom we’re so fortunate to have. Unfortunately in many parts of the Western world, especially in British Columbia, there’s a significant degree of political apathy and a lot of young individuals refrain from using their power at the voting booth. Every public school should make sure their students graduate with sufficient knowledge on how to engage in the democratic process and vote. Gaining the right to vote and reform government took a millennia of conflicts to accomplish, and thus, there’s no excuse for public schools to not teach students how to utilize a gift millions of people wish for everyday.
7. How to Take out Loans.
Loans are taken out everyday for a variety of purposes, usually for cars and property. One of the most common types of loans is a student loan – where students borrow money from the government in order to subsidize their post-secondary schooling. Sounds great, right? Well, for those who attain a high paying job after graduation it’s great as they can comfortably pay off the loan. But for those who aren’t as lucky in attaining a high-paying job, student loans can haunt them for the rest of their lives. Considering this, It’s odd that public schools, which have the primary responsibility to educate and inform, don’t teach students about the costs and benefits of loans. If students have a desire to pursue post-secondary education after high school, it’s crucial they’re sufficiently informed about the great opportunities and dangers associated with taking out loans.
6. How to Get a Job.
You often hear that the primary purpose of education is to prepare students for the real world and best enable them to attain a decent paying job. However, many public schools barely teach their students anything about attaining a job. For instance, no adequate lessons on how to write a resume, how to write a cover letter, or how to prepare for a job interview. It’s clear that instead of ‘take your kid to work day,’ public schools should have a ‘teach your kid to work day.’
5. Rights and Freedoms.
Unless you attended public school in the United States, it’s likely you were never taught about your rights and freedoms. In Canada, students are barely taught anything about the charter of rights and freedoms. As a result, many students grow up unaware that they can say ‘no’ to cops when they try to search their backpacks or cars. This is very important, as it’s our rights and freedoms which enable us to be free individuals and be innocent until proven guilty. If students were taught at a young age to memorize their rights, then law enforcement would be unable to abuse their power and individuals would be passionate about defending their freedoms.
4. The Importance of Privacy.
Ever posted a status or uploaded a photo online that you later found embarrassing? If you ever have – which, let’s be honest, you have – then chances are you found a simple way to delete or have that post removed. However, what many people today don’t know is that when you post something online, it’s online forever. Even if you delete it, sites like Google, Facebook and Snapchat keep a record of all your online activities, including all posts, likes, searches and history. The point is, privacy is gradually becoming a value of the past but not many people are aware of it. The large majority of us still put passwords on our laptops and phones to ensure our data is safe, despite the fact almost all our information is subject to seizure by governments, companies, and hackers. Considering the extraordinary rate at which technology is expanding, it’s shocking to realize that public schools barely teach students anything about privacy or the internet. In the 21st century, it should be an integral part of any school curriculum to ensure students are brought up knowing the dangers of posting information online, and the importance of having an inalienable right to privacy.
Living in a developed country, it’s rare that individuals ever find themselves in situations where they’re threatened or subject to violence. However, whether living in Canada, Switzerland, or Japan, violence and threats of violence still occur on a daily basis. It’s interesting that from a young age we’re taught about plant cells but never once taught about how to defend oneself if in a dangerous situation. Have you ever felt nervous walking down a dark alleyway late at night, or walking through an underground station in the early hours of the morning? If basic lessons on self-defence were taught in public school, from how to disarm an aggressor to how to defend oneself against physical attacks, then more people would be able to protect themselves from physical threats and crime rates might even decline.
2. How Mortgages Work.
If there’s one thing every person both desires and needs, it’s a place to live. However, public schools don’t teach their students anything about obtaining a house or apartment. Specifically, they don’t teach students anything about how to take out mortgages. Students should be taught about mortgages not just so they know how to go about obtaining a place to live when they grow up, but also to protect themselves. The 2008 economic crash was in part caused by a failure in the housing market, triggered by financial institutions selling sub-prime mortgages to hopeful home owners. Ultimately, mortgages are a fact of life, and the earlier people are taught about how they work, the better prepared everyone will be.
1. How to Invest.
Many are frightened and uninformed when it comes to investing, confused by scary words like stocks and assets, and completely lost with regards to where and what to invest in. However, almost all families and individuals who are serious about saving and making money make investments. Further, countries and the global market depend on investments for all sorts of things, from building critical infrastructure to ensuring economic stability. In public school, it’s shocking students aren’t taught anything about investing. If students were taught about investing in public school then they’d gain greater knowledge on how the global market works and most importantly, learn the basics on how investments can help secure financial stability and profit.