Handful of High School Curriculum Changes

  1. Financial skills. Mandatory. Relation of income, expenses, and lifestyle. Use and misuse of credit. Substitute for higher math
  2. Functional history. Mandatory. Average person’s life style 100 and 200 years ago. Progress made economically and medically. Improvements made, yet not perfection. Substitute for ancient history course
  3. Reasoning. Mandatory. On current issues. Difference between facts, opinions, and theory.
  4. Rights and Responsibilities. Mandatory. of individuals, society, and government. Social Contract. Conflict resolution.
  5. Work Practicum. Optional. Read and follow instructions. Operate cash registers and/or use of tools. Based on retail and manual work that high school dropouts can expect. Substitute for literature course

Purposes of Education

Public schooling has many diverse forces pushing on it. In the United States, high school education is heavily academic. More flexibility to meet social and work goals should be allowed.

Without drastically altering the high school curriculum which successfully serves certain needs and students, it should be possible to customize the curriculum to focus more attention on improving personal skills, improving the coming workforce capability, and the strength of society.

School performance for students by goals
Figure 1. School performance for students by goals

Figure 1 shows three major students groups in the left-column which experience different results across the main goals of public education in the row below tasks.

Discussion of Figure 1 Row 1. Dropouts leave high school with their potentiality unfulfilled. Society, as evidenced by dropout higher crime rate, is not served well by them. With a higher unemployment rate, dropouts find it harder to find satisfactory jobs in the work force.
Row 2. Overall, high school graduates get a chance to test their potential—intellectual, creative, athletic, and social. They gain a hazy understand the social contract, but learn skills sufficient to gain employment sufficient for a satisfactory lifestyle. On the negative side, many students do not get a chance to develop their individual skills as much as they would like. Conflict resolution, essential in a competitive society, is not well covered. Also, many employers complain of the sketchy grasp a large percentage of high school graduates bring to the workplace.
Row 3. Too many high school students who continue onto college degrees carry burdensome student debt. They had not the high school groundwork to guide them in assessing their expenses to their prospective salaries and lifestyle needs. Many highly successful individuals believe their success is wholly due to their effort overlooking the law and order of society which supports them as well as the essential efforts of employees who magnify the leader’s efforts.

Benefits of Changes

  1. A heavy debt load dogs many college graduates. Balancing salary today with future possibilities is a task that consumes much effort over one’s lifetime for all education levels.
  2. Is it reasonable to expect inequality to end in our lifetime? Are things really as awful as they sometimes seem? A knowledge of what daily life was for our grandparents and great-grandparents when they were our age would give us a realistic view on what changes and doesn’t.
  3. How are we to gauge the strength of arguments we hear from others and in the media? That is an essential skill in these days of self-publishing. Blogs, media sites, and books are often not reviewed for truth and sensible arguments. Society and individuals both benefit from a broader understanding of reasonable discussion.
  4. The poorest of society have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as well as the responsibility to follow the law. The haves of society have the right to enjoy their riches as well as the responsibility to ensure that the poorest have their rights.
  5. Work practicum will be a benefit to students who see education as an obstacle to surmount on their way to work. Surprisingly, the 20% of high school dropouts go back and finish for get their GED within 10 years of leaving school. They learn that they need the degree and skills. Let’s allow them to take it during their high school years. And it’s not just dropouts. Employers report than half of high school graduates who apply for jobs lack certain fundamental job skills.

Some might argue schools already provide for these options. In some limited cases they do, but reviewing high school degree requirements shows how little flexibility is allowed.

Others might say these courses would be a burdensome addition to the already existing high school requirements. That’s balderdash. Numerous smart high school seniors who have no plans for college end up with only one English course for graduation. As for potential dropouts, they should be allowed to substitute this handful of useful courses for required courses as soon as they have the skills to understand the course work.

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