News flash!! High school doesn't prepare young people for the real world once they graduate!
Surprise, surprise. That's not to say that there isn't value in getting an education. It IS to say that much of what is happening in schools today doesn't actually qualify as "education".
For 13 years, we shuttle our young people off to these Warehouses of Indoctrination where they put in 40 hours a week and at the end of it all, they are no more prepared to function as a productive member of society than they were when they first went in.
While much of the blame will inevitably fall on the teachers, the truth is, the design of the entire system of "Education" is flawed at its very core mission: Ensuring young people are prepared for the real world when they leave high school.
Study, after study, after study, after study (You get where I'm going with this) show that the answer to that question is a resounding "NO": Our children are laughingly under-prepared for the workforce straight out of high school.
We are, in essence, failing them by not demanding that they receive an education that gives them the necessary skills to operate in the "Real World". Sure, we've created standards and tests that measure how well they REGURGITATE, but we haven't ensured that they are able to think CRITICALLY.
Today, much of what we consider to be "education" is simply, "Has my child memorized enough to pass the test?"
The consequences, well, let's just say that today's students are responsible for tomorrow's nuclear weapons.
Here are 5 of the most critical lessons our students SHOULD be learning, but AREN'T.
Our children learn a lot about percentages, a little about money and virtually ZERO about taxes. What taxes are, how to calculate them or how to minimize their taxable liability (what the heck is taxable liability?). They know nothing about W-2s or Form 1090s, let alone how to actually FILE taxes.
For a majority of students, the extent of thei educational exposure to taxes basically begins and ends with the Boston Tea Party (On a side note, that was about REPRESENTATION, not taxation).
Speaking of Representation...
How Voting and Our System of Government Works
I speak with young people on a daily basis. And not just young people as in 14, 15 or 16. Young people as in Young ADULTS, 18 and older. I'm constantly amazed at the lack of knowledge about the basics regarding how the process of affecting policy truly works.
Now, objectively, I can't really be too hard on them, I learned absolutely NOTHING about how to Register to Vote, how to research the issues or about how to actually cast a ballot.
Also, at a time when young people will be the most affected by policies enacted by people old enough to be their grandparents (NOT hyperbole: The average age in Congress is 62 years old), there is a general apathy towards the political process from those who have the most skin in the game. Today's students will be dealing with the ramifications of policies enacted now, long after today's politicians have turned to dust.
And it isn't just on the national level. There are many adults (most likely "educated" in the very same system) who don't realize that LOCAL politics have a greater impact on their day to day than national politics do.
About Personal Finance and Money
Let's just deal with the elephant in the room: Schools are ill-equipped to prepare students for the realities of money in the real world. They can't teach about how to make it, save it, grow it or protect it.
Let this sink in: A high school graduate is expected to apply for loans to go to college but is taught NOTHING about money management BEFORE they commit to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
Take your time and let that just swirl around a bit.
Teenagers know little to nothing about creating a budget, opening a bank account, paying bills and don't even get me started on the concept of credit and debt. For a majority of our students, by the time they comprehend what credit IS, they will already have BAD credit.
Bad credit is expensive. As is poverty. And for many of our youth, they will discover that poverty is as much about the lack of knowledge as it is about the lack of resources.
This is significant because this generation of college students is the first that is expected to have a lower quality of life than their parents did.
How to Think Critically
The fact is, succeeding in high school is pretty simple: Memorize and regurgitate.
No really. Its THAT simple.
The ability to analyze and synthesize information and reach a conclusion based on inference is a skill that our students desperately need, and most are not being taught.
Critical thinking is a lost skill that will be absolutely necessary for today's graduates to have in order to address the mess we are leaving for them (and yes, we should be ashamed of how selfish we're being...more on that another time).
The worst part is, children are naturally creative problem solvers, but formal "education" actually sucks the creativity OUT of our young people. We are teaching them WHAT to think, but we never teach them HOW to think.
If we are to truly prepare our young people to be productive right out of high school, we will need to impart on them the art of free thinking and connecting the dots of information to real world application.
How to Manage Risk
This one is a tricky one. Parents inherently want to protect their children from the big, bad world out there. And teenagers are naturally prone to making bad decisions and taking unnecessary risks. To that end, schools focus largely on teaching young people how to AVOID risk.
We teach them how to be Risk Adverse, as oppose to teaching them how to Manage risk. In a closed loop, controlled environment like high school, that may be feasible.
But the real world is a different story.
In the real world, fortune favors the bold. What we should be doing is helping them to hone their ability to take calculated risks instead of trying to prevent them from taking risks altogether.
The world that our children will inherit is going to look significantly different than any we have ever seen before. The challenges and opportunities will require that our young people expand out of their comfort zones.
The sooner we get them use to the concept of calculated risk, the sooner we can have them on the path to tackling real issues.
We need your feedback. What are other concepts and lessons our young people aren't being taught in school that they SHOULD be taught in order to function better in the Real World?
Let us know below.
Bartholomew J. Worthington III is an anti-establishmentarianist (yes, that's really a thing) with a disdain for the status quo. Author, Coach and Entrepreneurship Evangelist, he relishes spreading the Gospel of Business Ownership.
Connect with Bartholomew J. Worthington on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+.
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