High school courses are designed to prepare students for a variety of life paths. College, vocational school and the job market are just a few of the more common paths taken after graduating high school. Unfortunately, many of the courses being offered in today’s high schools simply do not meet the needs of students, industry or society. Putting the issue of testing aside, high school courses should provide graduates with the tools they need to succeed professionally, socially and personally.
Reading and writing are more important than ever in the career arena. Job applications, tax forms and instruction manuals are just the tip of the literary iceberg. High school students must be able to read and write effectively to graduate. In the same way, basic math skills, such as those needed to prepare food, balance a checkbook or evaluate the true costs of a credit purchase are fundamental to existing in modern society. A course on resume writing and interviewing skills should certainly be part of any high school curriculum.
Political science, human history, economics, geography, and basic accounting skills should all be mandatory courses for high school students. Gaining an understanding of how countries interact, what is happening in the world today and what has occurred in the past, and how businesses succeed and fail are critical for graduates to interact with one another and the world successfully. In addition, parenting courses should be mandatory. Many high school students come from divorced families or are already parents themselves. Parenting courses can help break some of the negative cycles that occur in these situations. In the same way, a course should be offered that conveys the duties inherent in living in a free society. Becoming an informed voter, knowing one’s rights and responsibilities and knowing the steps to change laws (rather than break them), will make high school graduates better citizens.
High school students – more than anyone, benefit from learning about themselves. What is their learning style? For which jobs are they best suited? How can they maintain their good health? Basic psychology, physical fitness, nutrition, and an understanding of common illnesses, both physical and mental, should be part of the high school curriculum. Also, art and music should be required classes. Even without natural talent, some skills can be developed, leading to better appreciation, better math skills, and an outlet for personal expression.
Above all else, social skills must be stressed in high school curriculum. As global populations increase, resources become more scarce and interactions between cultures becomes more common, the ability of everyone to respect simple driving laws and treat one another with courtesy will become far more important than any academic subject.