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Broken Pencil: A rant about our recycled school curriculum

by Jacob Carey March 19, 2019
Broken Pencil: A rant about our recycled school curriculum

Why has the education system not evolved with the rest of the world?

As the world continues to change at such high speeds, why does it seem like the education system still relies on its age-old foundation? As important as education is with regards to shaping the society that surrounds it, I question how so many fundamental skills are missing from North American school curriculums.

I could explain, using supply-demand theory, how price suffers when demand decreases. I can recite Plato’s theory of Forms by explaining the Allegory of the Cave. I know Van Gogh cut off his left ear due to psychotic episodes. I can tell you about the Seven Years’ War, the War of 1812, and Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

I know these things because I’ve learnt them 100 times. And while these may be fun facts to show off your knowledge somewhere down the line, I still can’t help but notice that school never taught me how to do my taxes or cook a proper meal.

Although high schools are developed at a provincial, if not municipal level, many of them remain the same at the core. Most classes are taught to cover the basics of certain topics that everyone should know. Yet, some of the additional material taught in these classes remains irrelevant for the large majority of students learning them. Learning intensive algebra and the periodic table of elements may improve mathematical problem solving skills and expand our knowledge of chemistry, but these types of subjects should be left for those who want to pursue those fields in higher education.

Instead, we should omit these types of topics in order to make room for teaching life necessities. Taxes are unavoidable in life and we’ll all likely have to deal with them at some point, so why not teach us about this at a younger age? Why is it not required that high schools teach their students about money management and budgeting income? Why have we not been taught the basics of the stock market?

In some high schools, cooking classes are offered to students in varying years, but these aren’t required for everyone the same way as math and science classes. Arguably, every person should know how to whip up a healthy meal off the top of their heads.

Should technological literacy not be of greater importance than being taught the history of Quebec, again and again, for five years straight? Should formal logic not go beyond the logic grids from elementary school math classes and become pillars for basic coding skills in a society where the Internet is everything?

As technology advances and our priorities continue to change, I believe there are more important life skills that today’s students should be learning instead of the same curriculum my parents were taught many years ago.

Feature graphic by @sundaemorningcoffee

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