What High School Didn’t Teach Us

On average, a normal year of public high school stretches across 10 months (give or take a few weeks). During this time, students learn a variety of subjects to earn credits and later on graduate to face adulthood; I, myself did this very thing and graduated in 2016. Before I completed the full 4 years though, I came to a very important realization: the overall mission taught at high schools across the US is skewed. I was under the impression that high school had prepared me for the beginning of adulthood, but I had no Idea was I was doing. The first challenge I faced on my own was getting health insurance coverage, which brought me to a youth services center. The counselor that took my file mentioned that she handled many teenagers and young-adults with the same troubles I was facing. I couldn’t help but wonder: why aren’t high schools giving students a little taste of reality? Training students for life should be part of every school mission statement to ensure future success.
After doing a few minutes of research on overall high school mission statements, I came to the conclusion that their themes are very similar: to prepare students with a wide baseline of knowledge and skills to aid their success during their journey to adulthood. Most school mission statements sound positive and reassuring that the attending students will be prepared for life after graduation. Unfortunately, from both my personal experience and stories I’ve heard from people close to me, these promises aren’t being completely met. I believe that the general high school structure provides a wide variety of knowledge, but neglects to provide classes on real-life scenarios.
From my experience, high school is great at teaching about past wars in history, how to use the quadratic formula, how to write a proper sentence, and how to make a collage in art class. Trust me, I understand the positives to a liberal arts education; but while us-students struggle to remember dates of ground-breaking wars, some are starting to think about getting a job on the side. How do you write a strong resume to sell yourself correctly to an employer? Some are buying cars and contemplating on renting an apartment. What about loans?
I bring up these questions because I thought them (and many more) too. I moved out of my parents houses a month before I turned 18; not because my parents weren’t there for me, but because it just made more sense to relocate. I had been with my current boyfriend for 2.5 years and the apartment was 5 minutes away from my high school. I was working at a grocery store in town while Raymond worked in management in a store 45 mins away. We started being on our own a few months before my junior year ended. Although that seems young to be independent, both Ray and I matured quickly through our childhood and took on the challenge of adulthood early (and are doing fine).
Like I said before, very quickly I realized I had no idea what I was doing. I had jumped head first into boat-load of responsibility and learned right off that there were going to be MANY google searches ahead of me. It infuriated me that high school was putting all of the responsibility of teaching life-skills on the parents or the students themselves. Why the hell was Home Economy class taken off the curriculum?
I posted a question to my Facebook friends to see what sort of topics/skills they wish high school had taught them before they grew into adults. I got many responses some similar, some different. The basics included things like sewing, how to cook, and nutrition. Although these topics seem silly, they’re not. Someone with no nutrition knowledge may not understand how to maintain their weight or spend excess money on prepared food. Also buying new clothes every time ware-and-tear occurs would be a very expensive closet.
Other topics individuals wished they had learned were the basics of financial knowledge: how to budget, write a check/balance a checkbook, manage debt, how to manage your credit (some students don’t understand what credit is), or how to open a bank account and pay bills. The list goes on from changing a tire, to canning vegetables. Most, if not all of these topics are covered in a home-ec class. Leaving these lessons out of the curriculum creates a generation reliant on parents or the internet to learn the basics to being functioning member of society.
Home-Ec used to be taught in high school by “taking the latest in science and research and applying it to home use”1 but was viewed as less important after WWII struck. When men were drafted for the war the class was viewed more as a distraction from women’s academics. Women had to take over the responsibilities that the men were originally in charge of (yard work, income, etc.), which required a higher level of education. I believe that it’s time to bring home skills back into education to invest in the intelligence of future American Citizens. We can’t criticize a generation for being financially unstable if the basics weren’t included in our diploma requirements.
I understand some schools are built better than others, but I think we need to raise awareness toward the quality of young students’ education. We cannot expect individuals to be stable unless taught to be as such. By inserting this knowledge into the curriculum, the transition from being a teenager to a responsible adult could run its course in a smoother fashion without any early financial mistakes.

1. Sudermann, H. (n.d.). Whatever Happened to Home Economics? Retrieved July 06, 2017, from http://wsm.wsu.edu/s/index.php?id=265

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