Schools are very focused on â€˜academicâ€™ stuff; they need to give better focus to things important to people, things to help them get jobs and to live their lives. If given an easy path into the job they want, many people will take it. The easier that path is, the better. Many things are expected to be taught at home, but they aren’t always, and most people will be missing bits and pieces of it even if parents and family do teach it.
People are finding themselves in financial strife very often these days, especially the people currently entering the work force. They are using credit cards and going into debt so much that some call them Generation Debt (or something like that). Schools provide little to no information about how to handle personal finances to the vast majority of students. The basics of finance could be taught in a very short time, yet have a huge impact on students understanding of handling their money. Much of it is fairly simple stuff, but it isn’t always easy to figure out on your own when you have so much else to worry about. Discussions should be had about debt, how to manage it, when to use it; how to save money for expensive things, childrens education, retirement; budgeting and deciding what is important; banks and stock brokers and how those work relative to a student using them; bill paying. Students should learn how to balance a checkbook.
Home economics classes briefly go into some of the things a person needs to know about running a home, seeming to focus though on sewing and cooking. There is a lot involved in running a home. There should be at least discussion of all that is done to run a typical home. They should learn how to budget their time, in the more and more hectic lifestyles they will likely be living, to be able to handle cleaning and making food.
Nutrition and Lifestyle
The United States is having somewhat of a crisis with health problems, particularly ones related to high fat, high sugar diets and sedentary lifestyles. Students should be taught basic nutrition, how certain foods can reduce their risk of certain diseases, and how to create meals that are both healthy and taste good. They should go through physical education courses, as they already do, and taught how excercise can reduce risk of disease and increase the duration of the livable portion of their life. They should be taught how and where to excercise after they leave school in ways that might suit them best: they might prefer workouts at gyms, organized sports organizations, walking at work, jogging in the mornings, etc. They should be taught how gyms and sports organizations work and can be found.
Sex and children
Sex needs to be better taught about; it is covered only briefly and somewhat danced about currently. Students should see how it works, learn (directly) how to put condoms on, learn how to time a womans ovulation to know when she can and cannot get pregnant, learn about the diseases. They should learn about the signs of a woman becoming pregnant, about what needs to be done if she becomes pregnant as far as nutrition for her and what should be done with her doctor, and how to prepare for having the childe. Basic parenting skill should be taught.
Health and Biology
Students should learn how their bodies work and how to deal with them. Human biology is a lot more important in everyday life to most than more general biology. Basic first aid is important. Students should also learn how the health care system works and about health insurance.
Job finding skills
Anybody should be able to find and land a job they want and enjoy. They can, but they need to know how. They need to learn both how to figure out what that job might be for them and how to obtain it. They should be given a brief description of ‘all’ general job fields and interests they relate to, and slowly from an early age be directed towards the ones that best match their personal interests, capabilities, and desires. They should be taught the best ways to find jobs in their areas of interest.
Everyone should learn the basics of how their mind works and how people work (behaviorly/interacting with each other).
I think schools should focus first on job hunting skills, nutrition, lifestyle, finance, health and biology, psychology, social skills, and managing a home. These are the things that most everyone will make use of in their lives, and would benefit from having a lot of knowledge in. I also feel some history to be very important, so people know how they came to be as they are; and some basic physical sciences, so people will know how the world works. Many of the more ‘academic’ subjects are used very little by most people after they finish school, and so are less useful. Schools should ensure that the above things are learned by everybody. They should not need to waste time with tests over these subjects; rather, they should slowly drill the information in over their entire school career.
The schools should follow students interests and very early on start to send students on paths towards the careers they like. The students interested in science would begin learning more about science, while students interested in art would be given more teaching about art. They would need to be followed closely and always taught their interests; they must never be trapped in one path, even if they keep changing paths and only learn a little from each. If their interests are broad, then they will best be served with knowledge that is broad. Individual schools might need to be more narrowly focused to better teach the areas of knowledge, so students might have to go to different schools based on the path they choose. They should be able to take students farther along in the path they choose, as the teachers in those areas would only be teaching students with interest in them.
And so schools should be there to prepare students for life and career.