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But What About This Other..."Stuff?"

Yes! Amen! Preach! These subjects ^ (and more) should be mandatory in schools! However, in many educational systems, they're not even offered as offshoot electives, let alone as part of the general curriculum. But why, though? Well, based on my experience studying, working for, and consulting for many of these said systems, I have come across a few major reasons:

  1. TIME. In education, there's only so much time you have with students over the course of a day, week, month, and year (especially when you factor in holidays). Thus, more traditional, core, tested subject areas (e.g., Math, Science, English Language Arts/Literacy) tend to get prioritized, while these topics tend to be seen as extra and unnecessary. 

  2. UNDERLYING PHILOSOPHY. Many traditional educational systems are centered around the production of a compliant labor force, not the production of critical thinkers or innovators who will go out in the world and create, invent, or become self-sustaining (as several of the topics above promote). In some parts of the world, this philosophy never existed, has changed, or is changing (e.g., parts of Scandinavia and parts of Asia). But much work still needs to be done to change it on a wider scale.

  3. LACK OF TRAINING/"KNOW HOW." As an instructor, if you yourself were never taught these life skills in school as a child and then furthermore, the teacher prep program you attended never equipped you with knowledge around how to teach these skills to your students, how likely are you to incorporate them into your lessons? Not likely at all. Fortunately, life has humbled many of us adults and taught us these skills by force and by experience. For example, taxes don't care if we're ready to pay them or not - when it's time to pay up, it's time to pay up! :-o Some of us have even learned these skills through curiosity and independent research. But it's one thing to just know how to do something from experience and repetition versus another thing to know how to break it down and teach it to young minds who have no clue where to start. 

On paper, all educational systems generally want students to be what was expressed above in bullet point #2 as the ideal. Don't believe me? Just search for a random school or school district website and be prepared to find a beautifully-written, "pie-in-the-sky" mission or vision statement as its main headliner. However, what is often implemented and put into practice lends itself to an opposing outcome(s). To truly make headway, these systems must first be willing to change what was created decades, even centuries ago. Doing this - essentially flipping the entire system on its head - requires a.) hard work and b.) buy-in across the board. Yet this is where we tend to get stuck. Aside from pride and ego, too many people in position to drive this type of transformational change rather do what's easier and familiar. Hence, the cycle continues on, and on, and on, and on, and on. Generation after generation inherit the same "stuff."

Were YOU taught any of these non-traditional subjects in school?

  • Yes

  • No

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