I remember going to school when I was younger and I couldn’t wait to reach the 12th grade, graduate, and begin my life. I did what I had to. I woke early every school day, made my way to class on foot, and then on my bike later on when I was allowed to ride a bike to school.
I’d listen to the teachers drone on and on about this and that, never having a clue that when it was all over, I still wouldn’t know enough to live my life the way I wanted to. My educational indoctrination to American life was good, but far from being complete.
Here are 10 more things that I wished I would have learned while in school, but had to learn either through hard-knocks, or by investing even more of my time.
- Money management – Seems that schooling on this particular subject was light, at best. Saving money, spending money, budgeting, investing, and the importance of saving for retirement were all lightly touched on, but it felt more like “here are these items, understand? Good, let’s move on…”. What has happened because of this lack of education is I’ve had to learn everything about this subject myself, and I’ll share with you that it wasn’t the cheapest education I’ve done for myself. I’ve lost money, earned money, but in the end, I’m still not any better off than when I was graduating. Granted, I’ve been able to acquire debt, assets and all that, but getting to this point was really, really expensive.
- Critical thinking – Advertisers are liars by their very nature. At least, they know how to spin an idea or topic around so that it sounds like you have to have the product. Children are very impressionable, and marketers know this. Why do you think McDonald’s gives toys away with their happy meals? Kids know they’ll get a toy, so they’ll be apt to want McDonald’s over other burger joints. If children are told repeatedly to recognize enticement in advertising and to be more critical about what they read, see and hear, perhaps those get rich quick schemes wouldn’t be as profitable as they are today.
- Social skills – Something I really didn’t have growing up, and still don’t to some degree. I was always quiet and introverted with spurts of extroversion that seemed to display itself at the most inopportune moments. Perhaps I missed a course somewhere, but nothing really prepared me for mingling, being social and so forth. I’ve certainly taken my lumps with my social skills, and what’s funny (perhaps not so funny) is that I realize as I grow older that my social skills aren’t improving any really. I’m becoming more and more “set in my ways”. Perhaps this underlines the importance of developing good social skills in our children during the K-12 process.
- Sales – Sales is a skill that’s developed over time, knowing how to sell is becoming more and more important, not only to salesmen, but everyone. Knowing the “art” of selling is perhaps a better way to put this. Personally, I can’t stand selling something, I don’t hype it up, I don’t care to relate the benefits and why this or that is the most important thing in the universe, and why you have to buy it right now. I don’t get it really, either you want it or you don’t. I’m not going to pressure-sell anything, and this is my biggest fault I can see in my life.
- Goal setting – I learned how to set goals for myself and how to go about achieving them at my first employers company. I was sent to a Franklin/Covey seminar that completely changed my life. I can barely go a day without reviewing all my goals and plans for the day, the week, the month and next month. Doing this has helped me stay focused on what’s important. Finding out what is important to you and your life, and how to achieve your goals is perhaps the most important skill any one person could work on. Being unable to achieve your goals by will and leaving them open to kismet won’t help an individual achieve the greater part of happiness.
I’ve struggled to find any more educational topics that children and teens should be learning in schools. However, I will add that another important topic is activism. Certainly not taught in schools that I’m aware of, but imagine it. If there was a course on activism that teaches kids the proper way to petition the government and enact change in our society, I believe we’d be heading in the right direction.
What I see today is more like drones being kicked out of the mold and not told to think, but instead follow what everyone else is doing and you’ll be alright and a success.
I don’t define success as having followed what everyone else has done already.