Beyond the Classroom Learning Lessons for Life in High School

Sir Francis Bacon once said that “Knowledge is power.” As the world continues to progress, as those in power become more powerful, as those barely struggling by become more disenfranchised, as technology makes the world smaller and smaller, that statement becomes more and more true. How can one succeed in this ever-changing world without a knowledge about that world, about injustice and diversity, about life beyond their own? How can we teach the youth of this nation the knowledge they need to grow to be competent adults who are adaptive, intelligent, and just?

I believe that a mandatory high school course should exist which combines aspects of 1) researching news about current domestic and international events, 2) discussing philosophical and ethical questions applicable, and 3) discovering ways in which the students themselves can become involved in society and political decision-making. Such a course would prepare students to become part of their world beyond the limits of their current education in many ways. The course would emphasize the importance of and the students’ own interconnectedness with the rest of humanity. It would also foster and encourage within students the ability and desire to not only make ethical decisions, but to do so honestly and independently. In addition, the course would demonstrate the power that individuals and groups have to educate and influence others, and thus give the students confidence along with concrete ideas to meet the world’s challenges. Finally, the course would give these teenagers an understanding about why education is important at all, and would hence also develop the initiative to learn more. High schoolers today are required to take history, science, mathematics, and English courses nearly every year. While knowledge in these subjects is vital, the average student knows little to nothing about what is happening around them in their own lifetime. How can these young adults be encouraged and even excited to learn basic subjects if they are unaware of their significance in the world around them?

Teenagers today earnestly seek a cause or a belief to invest themselves in, something for which to stand. So many opportunities exist for them to become involved, as do so many causes which would benefit immensely from their passion, insight, and hard work. Unfortunately, these capable individuals have little ability to take advantage of these potentialities and begin to make differences in their world until they are taught how to do so, as is true with any ability. A course like the one summarized in this essay would create a perfect avenue by which to pass on that knowledge and power necessary for today’s youth to become leaders of the future.