Point-Counterpoint: learning ‘real life skills’ in high school

Talisman reporters debate the value of current school curriculums

Lila Gill and Ian Harvey
Originally published December 1, 2017

Lila Gill (Pro):

“When will we ever use this in real life?”

This statement is so commonly heard in school that it’s almost become a joke. But why? Why do students, teachers, administrators and parents just dismiss this important question? It’s being asked for a reason.

Obviously, there are things mandatory for learning that we might not use every day, like important historical events and basic science, but what is the point of spending a year learning geometry only to use a few of the ideas ever again? And annotating assignments? What is the point of that?

So instead of just complaining that school is a waste of time (it shouldn’t be), why not do something about it? Change what students learn and teach them relevant things. Those being, life skills. So many students graduate high school and move out each year only to have no idea how to do almost anything. Not all kids have parents who are able or willing to show them how to do things like cook a meal or change a tire. And yes, there is Google but, couldn’t one argue that someone could Google everything they learn in school anyways? If students are going to live on their own they need to understand how to do so, meaning, they need to know how to pay rent, how to keep a savings account, how to exist in the world independently.

In a survey done by Civic Enterprises and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, half of the high school dropout participants claimed their main reason for dropping out was uninteresting classes, and four out of five said they wished they learned more real world skills in school.

Fitting in another required class would be difficult because there isn’t much room to get rid of already mandatory classes. There are a few solutions to this but the most effective would probably be shortening each period in order to add another. Imagine how much more students could learn with a seven period day.

The school system is flawed in many ways and has room for improvement in different places, but I truly believe this could be revolutionary for the next generations of high school students.