I'm not saying that our system of education as it stands — in almost every conceivable facet — is in some way outdated, inapplicable or inefficient. But um, I'm not not saying that either? Snarkiness aside, I believe that the most important thing in life is education, which is a very common viewpoint. But despite this, it's not as easy as it could or maybe should be to truly educate the masses. When I say "educate," by the way, I'm not really talking about whether or not you can perfectly graph a tangent in Calculus or memorize the name of every bone in your foot in anatomy. These subjects are important, but they are not anymore important than the things we're not teaching our kids (and our young adults) about the world they are so evidently ill-prepared to enter.
We need to educate people on who to vote for, how to vote, and why. We need to educate them on their bodies, on personal finance, on how to file taxes, on why marriages do and don't fail, on whether or not marriage is for you, on the psychology of relationships, on Mental Health 101, on how to raise children, on how to file a lawsuit. These are the things that will be applicable for the rest of their lives. So while yes, Algebra 101 is important, it's not more important than Personal Budgeting 101, yet the latter is notably missing from our curriculums.
We don't just need to impose these new standards for the sake of it sounding nice to have people educated on things that are relevant. We need to impose these new standards for the fact that as a society, we will never be more than our common average (or our least privileged, as some would say). These are people who are holding votes, owning businesses, who we are marrying, befriending, and coexisting here in this country. Learning about Life 101 doesn't just make life easier for them, it makes life easier for all of us. So without further ado, everything that should be incorporated in school curriculums (that isn't, typically):
We are failing our children, our society, and ourselves, when we don't demand that kids are taught about personal finance in school. They should leave understanding how their taxes work, how to create (and stick to) a budget, what kind of monthly payment the loans they're blindly signing for will amount to, and how that will look in contrast to the average income of the field they're interested in pursuing. These are not "nice things to know," these are as essential as it gets.
We educate our children about their physical health (which is very, very important), but barely about their mental health. Sure, we review what "depression" and "anxiety" is, but we don't really explain that it manifests in ways different than just the way the textbook can describe. What I'm really trying to say is that we need to be teaching our kids the kind of "mental health" that results in them not ending up with anxiety at unprecedented rates because they don't understand how their mind-emotion-body system functions.
The Psychology Of Relationships
Your life will be defined, and created, by your relationships: the one you have with your family, your boss, your kids, your neighbors, and, um, yourself. Understanding the fundamental aspects of what makes two or more people get along, what constitutes verbal/emotional abuse, and how to actually make a long-term commitment work (whether that be to a friend or a family member).
In a Democracy(ish), people need to not be voting blindly, or worse, emotionally... which is very often the case. Like great advertising, politicians appeal to people at their most fundamental level, which is how they get people to rally with them. However, thinking with your feelings is not thinking at all. Sure, we learn about amendments and the constitution and our rights as citizens in school, but we don't learn exactly how we, as voters, should cast our opinions and why. We should be educated on the issues that are typically argued over in the elections (Foreign policies! Debt! Taxes!) and what it actually means.
Logic, Critical Thinking And Decision-Making Strategies
It would only take a brief mental sweep of the world you live in — and likely, the people you know — to be able to determine that few people really understand logic, critical thinking or decision-making strategies. Now, it goes without saying that nobody's perfect, and sure, even those who are well-versed in the art of Using Your Brain can mess up sometimes. These issues are completely 100 percent different than simply not even knowing how to "listen to your gut," or evaluate an issue objectively. These are not lofty, idealistic traits — they are essential, and in many cases, potentially life-saving.
Philosophy Of Modern Life
We learn about the classic philosophers, and their ideas and theories — and yes, that is important as it is a defining aspect of history, but we rarely (if ever) learn about the kind of philosophy that's applicable to modern life, or that would actually help a student be able to understand their circumstances or cope with their lives more effectively.
Self-Awareness And Emotional Reasoning
The first thing to know about self-awareness is that nobody is ever completely, 100 percent self-aware, and that's OK. The second thing to know is that it's extremely difficult to be self-aware, not because the concept of being conscious of your actions and choices and how they affect other people is impossible, but because it can be unpleasant. Regardless, this is so, so important, as it is largely a lack of self-awareness that results in people making choices that hurt others without any guilt or remorse. And the sister of self-awareness, a lack of emotional reasoning, is what leads people to make decisions solely based on their feelings, without ever evaluating those feelings and then making a more conscious, mindful, thought-out choice.
Teaching kids creativity is more than just letting them do some arts and crafts (though that is helpful, of course). Teaching creativity is teaching how to have fun. How to problem-solve. How to imagine what you want and how to come up with a plan to achieve it. It's how to make the world better, and make yourself better, and enjoy your life, and be OK. All of that comes from mental creativity, and we should spend less time rewarding rote memorization and more time facilitating children thinking for themselves.
Images: Giphy (4); Pixabay