Are schools teaching kids the skills they need to succeed?

Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent-That’s actually a good question. I’d like to think that I didn’t turn out bad, but I wouldn’t attribute my accomplishments to the skills I acquired at school.

Success is viewed differently, depending on the individuals involved. Success, for me at least, is not dependent on the height of my bank account, the clothes I wear, nor the assets I’ve procured; not at all.

My success depends on my happiness and internal progress. My school never taught me that success, not even a bit.

I didn’t learn to get along with my classmates because we were too busy competing for 1st place. I was never taught the importance of demonstrating kindness, because I was too busy burning candles and walking the compounds with books like a zombie.

The school system taught me how to calculate letters and numbers, but it failed to help me cultivate love for neighbour.

Success is not about what I have but it’s about how I feel. There are so many ‘successful’ individuals out there who are either yearning for genuine friends, too tied up accumulating riches to enjoy life, and completely neglecting their families. Where’s the success in that? Gain the world but lose everything else?

Back to the important question: Schools are not teaching kids the skills they need to reap genuine success. The school curriculum needs to be thrown out.

The skills I learned that actually made me successful was after I was given divine education, things that I could actually use to help people and make me the woman I am today.

Education is definitely important, but why do we still have so many educated fools when so many people are getting degrees? The school system has definitely failed.

Myrtle Beach, SC Correspondent-Well, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say ‘No.’ Let me be completely clear and say our teachers and schools are great, but they need help in more ways than one. So just to tackle this specific question, let’s get down to it:

Did you learn the essentials of being an adult in high school? I sure as heck didn’t! I was taught a plethora of information about English, chemistry, algebra, history and even music (which is neglected now-a-days, I understand). I got a great education and was prepared for college, but I was NOT given essential knowledge on how to function as an adult.

Let’s start with taxes. I got my first part time job right out of high school. I filled out my w-9 and had no clue what claiming one or zero meant, then the next January I got this awesome thing called a W-2! I had no earthly idea how to file, if I needed to file, what to claim, what I could deduct, etc., etc. Now, I don’t think we need an entire course on taxes, but I think we should have been taught the basics. We should also teach a bit about sales tax, road tax and other local taxes. This is all basic knowledge that ANY voter should have, but most don’t.

Next, we need to teach young people about tipping. How much is appropriate? When is it appropriate? I also think we should require students to experience various jobs, such as waiting tables simply because some people might not understand that a burnt burger isn’t the waitress’s fault. This type of education can make society better overall.

And let’s not forget civics and politics. Yeah, we all had basic education on how the government works, voting, etc., but I never really understood a lot of other logistics…the sausage making. Politics is SEVERELY neglected in public education, probably because it’s such a hot button topic. It would probably be difficult to find a teacher who could impartially teach politics, but I do think this is a big issue. If we don’t teach kids how politics work, how parties work, and most importantly how to DISCUSS politics openly we fail. We fail as a society when talking and discussing politics is such an awful topic everyone gets offended. Maybe it’s not so much of teaching about politics but teaching discussion tips? Perhaps we need to teach people how to discuss politics without having their feelings hurt and feeling attacked? I’m not sure exactly what the curriculum looks like for this, but we need it.

Next and probably one of the most important topics to teach is credit. Kids need to have a class in how your credit score works and what helps/hurts that credit score and why your credit score is important. We need to teach how mortgages, revolving credit, auto loans, etc. work and how they affect your credit. Too many young people have no clue, and once you get that first credit card and get a whole new wardrobe it feels so good!!! Then you get that bill, and it gets bigger, and then you have all this interest. We need to teach high schoolers how all this works. Oh, and a portion needs to be dedicated to student loans too—how to apply, how they work, etc.

We need to fill the younger generation with knowledge, practical knowledge, not just information.

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-Most public schools are not teaching kids what they need to know to succeed in life. With the overemphasis on performance and test scores, many children aren’t developing life skills, such as motivation, focus, self-discipline, and resilience.

Life skills are greater indicators of success in the long run as opposed to grades, and kids and parents are looking at the perfect grades aspect as a short term solution to the success of their children and are seemingly avoiding what life skills can do for their futures.

Education has to involve the melding of academics and values aspects, and putting the right programs and strategies in place is part of developing those skill sets so children can achieve academic success as well as success in life. Life lessons are important and can be easily incorporated in academic subject matter, such as following directions, interpreting content, cooperating and working in partnership with others, thinking critically and opening up to new ideas.

Program strategies need to incorporate teaching children the differences that go along with easy and more difficult school subjects, which help to determine the direction that children see for themselves in goals and interests. Those subjects that children enjoy and do well in just might become career focusing areas. Other school subjects and sports that are a challenge, yet still enjoyable, can be like hobbies, while more difficult or less interesting subjects should be classified as something that everyone has to go through and get past to move forward.

Other academic programs for older kids should provide a connection with life outside of the school setting and that entails dealing with a life aside from parents. Financial aspects and money management should be part of any higher learning as should civics, home economics, business education, job preparation, vocational choices and college expectation classes. Any other required or academic classes should have critical thinking components that deal with problem solving in relationship to the subject matter and how that information can be incorporated in the outside world.

Strategies also need to be integrated that deal in coping with the struggles that come with difficulties and failures in academics and other subjects. Expecting a child to do well in everything is setting them up for failure, and that is one of the main reasons life skills are incorporated in academics so children are aware that not everyone does everything well and that acceptance of that fact is the road to a clear focus on the greatest areas of interest and success.

In order for children to receive the skills they need to succeed, it is the responsibility of schools and parents to assure that the right kind of programs and home guidance are implemented and provided for both younger and older children so they can deal successfully and appropriately with life outside of the school and home setting.

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-To determine if schools are teaching the skills students need to succeed, we must first define the word succeed. One meaning relates to simply graduating from high school. If a student maintains passing grades throughout their K-12 years, she gets her diploma and succeeds. Yet, most of us know or have heard of high school graduates who are functionally illiterate. A diploma doesn’t necessarily equate with succeeding if a graduate can’t get her desired job because the job requires reading competence.

Another definition of succeed might be a student who becomes a competent, reliable worker who shows up every day and performs the tasks of his job. He then works for forty or fifty years, pays taxes, stays out of jail, raises a family, retires with a pension or 401k, and lives the rest of his life without becoming a burden on society. But if that man hates his job, can’t afford to do activities he wants to do, has no time to pursue hobbies or passions, and got married and had a family only because it was expected of him, has he truly succeeded? Probably not.

A better definition of succeed might be the ability for a person to achieve her life goals and ambitions and be happy, healthy, and productive while leaving the world a better place by the time she dies. This would entail tailoring education to the individual rather than using the mass-education, one-size-fits-all approach that public schools have relied upon for more than a century. This definition doesn’t measure success by the amount of money she accumulates, nor does it measure success with achievement, fame, or notoriety. It also doesn’t measure success by the number of activities she completed or the number of awards she garnered. This definition measures success only on the amount of personal satisfaction she can claim at the end of a life well-lived.

Few people use what they learned in school to make them truly happy. Many students either drop out of school or graduate but can’t become competent workers and cogs in the great machine of society. Very few look back on their schooling as the key to their ultimate happiness in life. It must be concluded that overall, schools are not teaching students the skills they need to succeed.

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-While teacher pay continues to be a problem, the schools in which those teachers work are doing a better job than ever at preparing their charges for a productive life, starting at the middle school level.

When I was in middle school eons ago, my school in suburban Philadelphia was something of a curiosity in that it required all students to take a half-year of home economics and a half-year of shop class. The first year in home ec was all about sewing and such, and I’m still proud of the fact that I’m one of the few men I know who can sew a button on my own shirts in a pinch. The second year was kitchen-oriented, and I’ll never forget the final exam, during which we were expected to cook breakfast from scratch and were graded on quality, nutrition and originality. I credit that class with starting me on the road that led me to professional restaurant kitchens in my earlier life.

Shop class was just as important, teaching me fundamentals of construction and materials handling that make me perfectly at home doing minor home repairs and taking on projects like making directional signs for my upcoming wedding out of pallet wood.

Of course, high schools have long been preparing kids for the big bad world, but the students who got the best real-world training were the ones who went through auto shop and the “trade school” classes. A lot fewer students from that track end up with college degrees making coffee at Starbucks. The new emphasis on STEM education is helping make sure the smarter kids get some useful instruction, too. The liberal arts are still taught, thank God, but there’s also a lot of emphasis placed on making sure that kids entering the job market know a data packet from a Pop-Tart. Given that I frequently confuse the two, I can well see how important that might be.

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