Offer classes kids will need in daily life

Lately there is a lot of controversy surrounding the use of standardized testing in the public schools, and rightly so. This discussion needs to take place. But after a recent conversation with my 15-year-old daughter, I’m wondering if our focus should shift from how we teach our young people to what we teach them.

My daughter says she is “infuriated” with her curriculum. And she claims a number of her classmates feel the same way. She sees some of her homework as “a waste of time,” specifically algebra and biology. Why, she asks, must she study quadratic equations and cell structure when she will most likely never use that knowledge in the “real world.” She believes she should instead be studying “practical” courses such as personal finance.

I think she makes a valid point. High school math and “hard science” courses are ideal for those planning careers in computer science, engineering, medicine or teaching. For the rest of us, I believe they should be electives. Core curriculum should consist of courses that provide useful knowledge, information that will benefit everyone. We all need to read and write intelligently, we all need a good understanding of history, we all need strong, healthy, bodies.

Besides English, history, physical education and the “soft sciences,” here are a few examples of practical courses that could be included in public school core curriculum:

Personal finance: It seems to me, we all need to understand the value of work and earning money, saving and investing, how to balance a checkbook and create a budget.

A survey of world religions: I think young people should be introduced to the possibility that there might be more to life than what we detect with our five senses. A “philosophy of life” is sorely lacking in a growing number of teens and young adults. I’ve never understood why science is studied in high school while religion is ignored. I believe both world views are of equal importance. America was founded not on scientific principles, but rather on religious principles.

Basic etiquette: Can we agree that young people today are lacking some fundamental social skills? Face-to-face conversation seems to be a lost art. I cannot think of a more practical, powerful skill than the ability to express one’s thoughts politely and cogently in mixed company. A course on etiquette might also include topics like showing respect for one’s elders and authority, civic responsibility and working as a volunteer. The kinds of social interaction that characterized civilizations for thousands of years, up until the birth of the smartphone, need not be relegated to the ash heap of history. I believe etiquette can be cultivated and practiced in a classroom, just like algorithms and the periodic table.

Daniel Braun is a resident of Everett.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

toon
Editorial cartoons for Monday, Jan. 24

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Jeff Thoreson cheers with his students after his class wins a tug-o-war game on Thursday, June 17, 2021 in Snohomish, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: School levies an investment in kids, communities

Voters in several county school districts are asked to approve levies in a Feb. 8 special election.

Comment: Omicron will pass. but hospitals’ deficiencies won’t

Hospital ERs were always a challenging place; the latest surge may leave long-lasting wounds.

Learn about Northshore school levies, bonds before voting

On Feb. 8, all registered Northshore School District voters in King and… Continue reading

Russia’s Ukraine buildup has to do with WWII

Russia’s buildup at Ukraine’s border is a reaction to Adolf Hitler’s Operation… Continue reading

Snohomish’s former mayor made many missteps

A recent letter to the editor asked proper credit be given to… Continue reading

Comment: Will pro-life supporters now march for kids, moms?

If Roe v. Wade is overturned can we count on their support for birth control, child care and more.

Comment: Full commission needed for best wildlife management

To manage a vital resource, a commission vacancy must be filled and its testimony rules changed.

Comment: Allow optometrists to provide care they trained for

State law should be updated to allow doctors of optometry to provide care that other states allow.

Most Read