There’s no doubt that schools in the United States are underfunded and struggling. With many parents working multiple jobs to make ends meet, there is little time left over to spend with their kids and teach them life skills like cooking, taxes, and other basic adult tasks. This means that kids leave school without learning them and are left to figure it out on their own.
Someone on Reddit asked if schools should start adding more life skills classes in order to better prepare students for life. There were answers all over the board about it and people brought a lot of unique perspectives.
Life skill classes are really fun in comparison to science and math classes, which kids notoriously don’t enjoy. Adding a break in a student’s schedule for a more engaging and fun class could lead to happier students and happier teachers.
1. What if the parents aren’t there?
“I am opposed to it.
There’s no reason parents can’t teach these things to their kids WHILE DOING SAID TASKS.
School isn’t responsible for every single thing.
Also, with the internet, if a parent doesn’t know (changing a tire, for example), they can easily learn.”
2. It can’t all fall on teachers.
“School can’t teach literally everything.
Most of what you need to learn outside of school can be done with skills you get in school. Laundry and basic cooking isn’t that hard as long as you have the skills to complete high school.
I think it should be optional because not everyone has a parental figure that will teach these things though.”
3. Let’s try to give them a chance.
“Great parents could teach almost everything school teaches, but most parents are imperfect and lots of parents are sh*tty.
The point of school is to give every kid as good a chance at life as possible.”
4. Blame it on the Boomers.
“This used to be called Home Ec and most schools had it.
Then Boomers did away with it because it cost too much.
Now they make fun of young people for not knowing things they would have learned in Home Ec.”
5. They definitely wouldn’t retain it.
“It’s so funny how many of you think that kids will actually be interested in learning about taxes, stocks, etc.
In what world do you think high schoolers would be attentive in a class about budgeting/taxes?
Have any of you met high school kids before?”
6. It’s about deciding what’s more important.
“These are things that can be learned independently by simply doing them.
Taxes are d*mned near idiot proof in most cases because they are designed to be. Washing clothes, follow the instruction manual. Cooking? Watch YouTube, follow a recipe. What these all have in common is that you need a solid grasp on numeracy and literacy. These are things that must be explicitly taught.
These are the core skills that underpin almost everything. People who complain about not being taught how to do their taxes tend to have sh*tty numeracy skills. People who struggle to fill out a form tend to have sh*tty literacy. Can’t read instructions? Literacy issue.
You can make education as practical as possible but the fact is: many don’t want to learn, until it’s too late. I say this as a teacher: we really do a lot to make education as relevant to real-world needs as possible but there is not getting around the fact that a person must learn to be fluent in both reading and writing, as well as be able to think mathematically to cope in the “real world”.
The rest of what we do is for the purpose of teaching you how to learn effectively, how to think in different ways, how to adapt to unfamiliar challenges and how to deal with abstract ideas. We don’t teach the model of the atom because you need to know where the elections go.
We teach you so that you can learn how to grasp concepts that are not directly observable, make logical conclusions from them and apply abstract ideas to real-world phenomena. The actual topics are just vehicles for these skills.”
7. Yes, they are.
“I think it’s ridiculous that washing clothes and basic cooking would be considered “adult stuff.”
These are all things I learned at home and was doing for myself by high school.
Are people’s parents really just doing all this for them?”
8. We’re all for critical thinking.
“Here’s the deal about the whole “paying taxes” thing.
It changes every single year. By design, taxes are hard. They don’t need to be. But they are.
Teach critical thinking and reading comprehension instead.”
9. Maybe we could have a salad making class.
“Nope. Parents have to take some responsibility for having kids, too.
Also, cooking has largely been dropped from curriculums mainly because of the danger in it. Kid drops chicken on the dirty floor and picks it up quickly? Kid knocks boiling water off the stove? Schools would be sued quite quickly.
Tax – yeah. But wouldn’t it be better to teach kids about how governments use their tax?”
10. It all falls under critical thinking.
“How about teaching financial literacy and media literacy?
In today’s world it would do wonders for society if the next generation could avoid taking on too much debt and buying into garbage “news” and conspiracy theories.
11. The students might not pay attention to it.
“The issue, in my opinion, is that these are things parents should be teaching students.
Teenagers don’t care about those kinds of classes. Just like with every other class, they will have that knowledge in their heads for a finite time and it will dissipate into lost memories eventually.
There is a cultural split about how children are supposed to learn things. Some parents think that the 8 hour school day five days a week plus homework over the course of 12 years should include life-building skills and should be able to teach those skills effectively (since teaching is kind of school’s whole purpose).
This divide puts us in a weird spot where we have some children who are receiving conflicting information, some children who aren’t being taught these things at all, and only a small handful who are coming out the other side ok. Our current system is f*cked. And there is no “easy” way to fix it bc no one can agree on a direction to take.
Now that that tangent is over I want to tackle the actual classes that are teaching these subjects. I took a personal finance course in high school (about five years ago so it’s possible my experience is dated).
There is just enough engagement to prove to the teacher that you were kind of watching the videos and not nearly enough engagement to actually cement that information into your brain. There were no active activities, projects, or graded assignments that required you to think and apply the information you’ve “learned” in a way that would allow you to contextualize it and keep it in your memory for longer.”