Imperative Life Lessons that Formal Government Education Does Not Provide

Alessia Bicknese

Throughout high school and college, we learn the fundamentals of math, science, social studies, and English. We learn the Pythagorean theorem, how plants obtain their food through photosynthesis, the economic slump known as the Great Depression, and of course, we learn that when an author says, “the blue curtains hung over the windows,” we need to ask ourselves, “Why were the curtains blue? Why were they hanging over the windows?”

And there we have it: the essentials of high school and college.

But what about life after school? What about what we really need to be learning for when we get out of high school and college? I know for a fact that most students in my high school had absolutely no idea where they wanted to go to college, how to pick a college, why they should go to college, and more importantly, how to apply to college in the first place. In high school, we should be learning those things, rather than constantly memorizing formulas and taking the same history exam every single school year. We are not taught how to handle our money or anything about finances and accounting. Most students still don’t even know how to write a check.

Instead of teaching us about the government today, we learn about what the government was decades, and even centuries ago. We learn absolutely nothing about credit. How do we build up our credit? What makes good credit, and what makes bad credit? What’s an interest rate? How do we find a job? An internship? These are all things that we are supposed to find out by ourselves, instead of learning them in a government run school. The purpose of going through high school and college is to prep us for the “real world.” Students are told that they will “need” to know how to use long division, and that it is absolutely crucial to know every element in the periodic table. What about in elementary school when we had to learn to play “Hot Cross Buns” on the recorder? What was the point of that? Realistically, we should have been learning table manners so that we were prepared for adulthood, and how to write essays so that we are prepared for middle school, where we would learn to write more essays, so that we could be prepared for high school, where we would have to write a college essay (on our own, without a prompt).

I can honestly say that everything I learned in high school went in one ear and out the other. I remember nothing, except how to make a paper snowflake, how to put a condom on a piece of fruit, and how to say no to drugs. We took health classes telling us that we will get cancer from smoking marijuana, our tongues will turn black if we smoke cigarettes, intercourse can and will kill us, and of course, every man you meet will drug you. We are also taught by the school nurse that if we feel like we have to throw up, or if our finger is gushing blood, we should put an ice pack on it. How about instead of brainwashing students, we teach them about health care?! Shouldn’t we learn to understand the difference between individual and group plans, and the best care at the best price? On the subject of health, why don’t we learn anything about first-aid? If we want to learn CPR, we have to get certified through a class outside of school. Why don’t we just become CPR certified together – IN SCHOOL? It’s 2016, we need to learn how to survive during some kind of apocalypse. Why did our physical education classes not teach us any kind of self-defense for the “real world?”

What about filing income taxes and learning how to read our W-2? Are we just supposed to know how to file our taxes? Thank God for TurboTax, am I right? How come we were not warned about how much heating, electricity, Internet, and cell phone bills cost? Who knew we had to pay monthly for things we already own?

The truth of the matter is that we are on our own to figure out how to buy or rent a house, how to answer questions during an interview, how to enroll our future children in school, how to pay for our student loans, and in general, how to “adult.” This is a great time to be thankful for our parents.