“The subjects we learn in school provide the most effective tools with which to understand the world around us.”
Traditionally, school is there to prepare us for the ‘real world’ and increase our chances of finding suitable and enjoyable occupations. Common and traditional subjects include English, mathematics, science, history and geography. Despite the fact that being knowledgable in these areas can earn a satisfactory occupation and income, there are still other tasks and jobs in the world that still need to be taken care of.
I believe that schools do provide us with life essentials, although only to a certain extent.
Many different skills are necessary to understand the world around us. Schools provide us with many necessary skills to an extent. If we were to ignore mathematics and the study of English, it would be extremely difficult for us to comprehend the way society functions. For example, if you were to apply for an occupation though a contract and you were unable to understand the text, you would struggle to complete the tasks you would like to do. This supplies us with a valid reason to pursue the study of English. English, of course, is also a valuable subject. It allows us to broaden our vocabulary and significantly affects our communication skills.
Additionally, another daily example requiring traditional school skills is the use of money. Without any understanding of mathematics (e.g. the inability to count), it would be a difficult task to simply count your change or to estimate time. Mathematics allow us to stay certain on many common things revolving around an average life.
Drawing upon my class experience, we pondered upon the idea that learning about history is pointless. Is it? From one perspective it is, we should be moving forward without looking backward. However, I believe it is an incredibly important subject where we can learn from mistakes, improve the way we live and work and acknowledge great achievements of the past. History also provides us with inspiration for the future, because without what happened in history, there would be no today.
Removing our current mainstream subjects is hardly an option. These subjects; languages, mathematics, science, humanities etc. all expand our knowledge and allow us to become a knowledgable and efficient person. This said, there are of course many necessary skills that schools do not teach.
For instance, once a student/young adult leaves their parent’s home and supervision, they are generally required to lead an independent life. It is important they are equipped with certain skills to enable them to pursue their goals without trouble.
For example, simple as it may seem, cooking is essential in our lives; without cooking we cannot eat our 3 daily meals, and it is possible money could be wasted purchasing meals every day. As a student at University High School I acknowledge that Food Technology is offered as an elective, and I think that is pleasing. However, if there was a compulsory lesson concerning cooking and cooking skills, I believe that would highly benefit our futures.
Money management is also an essential part of an independent life. Without an understanding of how to evenly distribute your money, you can face difficult circumstances where you need to rely on family or businesses such as Centrelink to support your wellbeing. From my experience as a student, no lesson has ever improved my understanding of this topic, and I believe it would support students well if this were to be a subject taught in school.
Accounting on my personal experience, during our ‘Permablitz’ gardening workshop and the Permaculture Trail, I developed skills that I had never paid any attention to at school prior to the experience. I had only worked on these skills at home. As displayed at the wonderful community garden we visited (RAW), we experienced something that isn’t taught in a common classroom. In our schools, they do not teach community and socialisation. It is a quality that should be paid attention to and I believe that time should be devoted towards working on this. Learning about food waste and topics as such helped me improve my awareness and understanding of the world around us. I now understand the actions and things we can do to benefit the world, and how other things (such as letting food waste go to the dump and release methane) can damage the world. After hearing Mariam’s advice and inspirational words, it opened up many new perspectives about how I saw the world around us.
Dr DiBasio writes that non-traditional learning experiences claim to support preparation for LLL (life-long learning). He also writes that studies show that study abroad students are consistently outscoring on-campus students concerning LLL. This supports the idea of exploring beyond the classroom, perhaps into places such as community garden (as mentioned before) or the kitchen.
For the reasons discussed above I can acknowledge that there are various skills that perhaps should be taught in schools, although schools definitely do provide us with skills across a wide range of academic subjects. From my perspective I believe schools can be improved, although the current system holds a fair curriculum to an extent.