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Four practical subjects they don’t teach in schools but should

School education is still stuck in the Industrial Age and kids aren’t prepared for the real world when they leave.

Schools educate on facts but don’t teach wisdom. They are grounded in the abstract but provide very little by way of practicality.

Other than teaching youngsters to read, write and socialise with a peer group, schools provide few practical skills to prepare them for the real world.

As an example and to paraphrase Sir Ken Robinson: in school if someone copies from another it’s cheating but in the workplace it’s called cooperation.

Some argue that schools aren’t supposed to provide this level of guidance. I disagree. If schools are meant to teach then why shouldn’t the curriculum include practical subjects on making a good life?

When the total sum of human knowledge is online what can schools offer a kid who already has a passion for learning about physics? He could get everything he needs from the internet.

Schools need to go beyond what can be searched for in a couple of clicks. They need to teach more practical skills as well as the core subjects.

Intelligence comes in many forms, yet schools only reward the academic kind. If you’re not academically intelligent you’re deemed a failure.

Below are five things that they don’t teach in schools but should.

1. Personal finance

Unsecured debt is on the rise. Credit card companies dish out extortionate interest to users each month. People buy too much depreciating ‘stuff’ and don’t invest long term.

Why? Partly it’s consumer culture. Mostly it’s because looking after one’s finances is a mystery to many. It shouldn’t be. Personal finance management should be taught from an early age.

Some are gifted with the frugal gene. They know how to save, where to save it and have an innate ability to spot a bargain. They spend less than they earn and don’t have the urge to impulse buy. These people are few and far between.

The rest struggle to make money work for them. Or it takes years of learning the hard way, as it did with me. Their lives are crippled by debt which often takes years to get out of the black (or red, rather) hole.

Personal finance should be taught in schools from an early age. Kids should understand the implications of getting deeper into debt and the difference between good and bad debt.

If they did there may be less sleepless nights, depression, broken down relationships and ruined lives in the future.

2. Philosophy

Granted, philosophy is a deep and complex subject that can be too abstract for young minds. But if it is taught right by covering the basics, it would help kids understand what is and isn’t important at the philosophical level.

It would teach them how to think for themselves, be more rational and open-minded. It would help develop their own philosophy of life based on their own ethics and morals.

While I don’t suggest they should ponder Jung’s writings on the depths of the ego and subconsciousness, a general philosophical outline and guide would help.

3. Health

From birth to adolescence a child’s body is in growth mode. Their bones grow longer, muscles get stronger, organs work harder, hormone levels peak and their brain absorbs information like a sponge.

Kids are lucky too. Most can eat anything they want without getting fat. Their bodies need the extra calories to grow regardless of where those calories come from. They have boundless energy and, provided they use this energy up, they can eat what they want.

There’s a downside of course. Eating unhealthy foods creates long-term bad habits. If the parents are equally uneducated about health and nutrition then these eating habits follow them into adulthood.

The obesity crisis in the West is real and is getting worse. We exercise too little and eat too much crap.

If kids were taught the basic tenets of exercise and nutrition, and there aren’t that many, it would help develop healthier eating habits into adulthood.

We have the knowledge and scientific understanding. We know too well the long-term problems created by an unhealthy lifestyle. Why aren’t we giving kids a blueprint?

4. Communication

There has never been a greater time to be a good communicator. The world is smaller but more complex. Technology has provided may ways to communicate your ideas and express yourself but in-turn has made the world more competitive.

We live in a society that judges people on the way the look and how they present themselves. We understand the power of nonverbal communication. According to some charisma can be learned. Reading, writing, presenting and speaking are a fundamental part of who we are and all which you can refine and perfect.

Communication skills are transferable. They are also a prerequisite to a successful life. How many successful people do you know who are bad communicators?

It could mean the difference between having a good or bad career. It could mean the difference between a failed and successful relationship. Good communication is required for every kind of successful human interaction.

And the most critical part of communication? Listening.

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Kids need to be educated on how to live a full and rich life and not just how to do Pythagoras theorem. They should be taught that character development is just as important as academic development.

Living a full and rich life takes a grounding in one’s self, a conscious effort and a lifetime of work.

The earlier we all start the better.

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