The main purpose of high school is to prepare students for further studies or if not pursuing college, then preparing them for life outside of school. Most students feel they are not using real-world life skills or learning them during their time in high school. Life skill courses should involve teaching students abilities that include social skills, money, and other skills like cooking, or driver’s ed. Though schools may offer certain courses about these skills in their curriculum, students often may not know about these courses because they are not made aware of them, they are more focused on the classes that are mandatory such as English, Math, Science, etc. or they are more worried about what courses colleges will pay more attention to. Classes like these would be vital to the transition to adulthood. Most students in their senior year and after graduating begin working, which means writing or having a well-structured resume, paying bills and taxes. Without these basic skills and information, teenagers can struggle to come to terms with real-world situations.
Schools should be able to provide basic social, mental, and emotional skills that ready teenagers for their life after high school. Overall, if brought back, they could be placed as electives that give students a chance to learn how to use basic skills as a function after high school or better yet made mandatory classes for seniors who have enough space in their schedule to attend these said classes. Classes like these would be used to help students function as proper adults in college or what they choose to do afterward. These classes bring back the idea of high school graduates knowing how to file taxes, knowing the best way to save and budget money, and more skills used in the everyday life of an adult.
There are many benefits to life skill education. It is not only about having the information to fill out your taxes or learn to drive a car, but life skill education has also been found to be an effective ‘psychosocial intervention strategy for promoting positive social, and mental health of adolescents which plays an important role in all aspects such as strengthening coping strategies and developing self-confidence and emotional intelligence, as well as enhancing critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making skills (Significance of Life Skills Education). Life skill education programs provide a great support system for these soon-to-be adults. High schoolers have spent many of their lives having things done for them, never having to deal with the thought of bills or taxes. These classes will help guide them through the basics of surviving adult life, learning how to cook a decent meal, managing money correctly, and keeping a good credit score.
Students these days are not very motivated when they are stuck in classes eight hours a day that they have no interest in them. In Montgomery County, a school called Thomas Edison High School of Technology offers programs that allow students to ‘experience success through hands-on learning that prepares them for college and future careers’ (Thomas Edison SOT). They have programs for those interested in human consumer services like cosmetology and other programs such as automotive and construction. In a large survey given to high school dropouts, it was found that ‘about half cited uninteresting classes as a major reason for their decision. Four out of five said they wished they’d had more opportunity to do real-world learning in high school’ (Ripley). Programs like the ones Edison offers to students will provide an opportunity for students to pursue and get ahead in the career they want for themselves. Along with it being done through a school, students will save money by not having to spend money other than any supplies needed to attend this school.
High school plays a vital role in the development of one’s personality. Complete with life skills education would change the views students would have on life. Life skills education could provide solutions associated with behavioral and emotional problems that many teens may suffer from. These courses integrated into the schools’ curriculum would be big gameplay for acquiring these skills in various situations in life. Life skills education is defined by UNICEF as ‘transferable skills that enable individuals to deal with everyday life, and to progress and succeed in school, work and societal life. They are comprised of skills, attitudes, values, behaviors and domain-based knowledge.’ While the World Health Organization (WHO) defined life skills as ‘the abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life.’ Though two different definitions, with the World Health Organization talking more about the positive mental aspect of life skills and UNICEF talks about like-skill education, both make points as to the great benefits of these courses. In today’s day and age, we know many teenagers suffer with mental illness or know someone who does. Teaching them proper mental health care, would help them know the proper way to take care of themselves and their loved ones. Teenagers are susceptible to forming unhealthy habits in order to cope with life. Showing students correct and healthy ways of coping with matters instead of heading towards a destructive path.
Many would argue that these types of classes are not needed and should not be added to the school’s curriculum. They state that high school teachers are not there to educate students on how to pay taxes or prepare them for the work field, that is the job and responsibility of the parent(s) of the household. The school should be focusing its resources on crucial factors such as increasing school funding, giving students more options for elective classes, and/or improving students’ test grades. Having classes like those would be distracting and ‘filling up a student’s schedule with these nearly pointless classes gives them fewer opportunities to take more advanced classes (Thompson). Not every student wants to continue forward with college, so having them continue to take these pointless classes that benefit them in no way is excessive. I wish I were able to take more courses like these in my time at high school, I would be a little more confident in what I wanted to do with my life and be prepared to live a life without the constant help of my mother. I was only able to take one course during my senior year, Career Seminar, and that is where I learned about credit card debt, the best way to budget money, how to write a good resume, what to do before, during, and after a job interview, etc. It was the only class that I truly felt was helping and going to help me in the future.
Saying these classes are ‘pointless’ and not making them a priority or giving students the option to sign up for these courses is the reason many high school graduates like me leave feeling overwhelmed with all these aspects that come with being an adult. Schools prioritize activities such as sports, music, and art over learning basic adult skills. Life skills have already been taught in many schools in the US and around the world. Only a few schools around the U.S. continue to include life-skill courses, while in other countries, life-skills programs are offered and have been introduced in schools for all different age groups. As stated in the beginning, high school is there to provide knowledge and experience to those hoping to continue with college or to those wishing to do something else after high school. It is about giving students the option of learning more than how to find the degree of an obtuse angle or how many times 6 goes into 600.
In conclusion, life skills go well beyond having students be certain about a major for college or impressing a potential employer in the future, life skills provide teenagers with important tools for development, such as critical thinking, learning to socialize, how to act when there may not be anyone else around to intervene or how to cope with personal life situations. Most of these courses like driver’s ed were a staple in high school curriculums around the United States. Back in 2001, driver’s education was dropped from public school curriculums due to either budget cuts or teachers’ and parents’ emphasis on the importance of college-ready courses and requirements. Junior year is when most students begin to embark on a mission to get their driver’s license. Not all students have access to driver’s ed classes due to the excessive cost of attending. Schools being able to provide access to opportunities like driver’s ed would make it convenient for certain students.