Are we unprepared for the real world?


How many protons are in a carbon atom? When was the Boston Massacre? What is the derivative of f(x)=2×3+5x? Why do I need to know this information? As I surpass the halfway point of my high school experience, I wonder, what else will I face after I graduate? As students, we spend hours upon hours, focusing on learning and analyzing information in order to pass tests, improve our GPAs, and get into the colleges of our choice, but how many hours have we spent learning to pay taxes? High school prepares us for a college education when it should simultaneously prepare us for life.

When adults ask us if we have started planning for the future, more often than not, they are really asking if we have started planning for college. As we all know, there is a level of independence that comes with college, the ability to function without constant support from parents. However, many students still lack the preparation for life away from home.

How do we apply for a job? Change a tire? Open a bank account? Apply for a credit card? Many of these tasks are considered life skills, things that we should learn on our own outside of school, usually from a family member. However, not every student or every parent has the time to learn and teach such tasks. For those that are unable to learn all the responsibilities of life on their own, a class or school supported course may be the solution.

Piedmont used to have one class in particular that taught the same basic life skills that our students currently need. Home Economics classes originated in the late 1800s, early 1900s, and existed at Piedmont decades ago, ending in the late 80s once the Home Economics teacher retired, according to math teacher Doyle O’Regan. In recent decades, the course has gradually lost support as certain lessons seem to perpetuate outdated ideals, teaching mostly females how to care for families and perform housework.

However, these are not the only lessons taught to students in Home Economics classes. For example, one course can encompass nutrition, finances, health, hospitality, consumerism, and house repair. So, while students do not necessarily need to learn how to care for a newborn while in high school anymore, other lessons might still be helpful for both girls and boys.

Along with the old-fashioned lesson plans, Home Economics became less relevant as the percentage of students attending college increased. There seems to be a common misconception that students no longer need to learn certain skills as students will continue to receive support in college, but although most college students live in dorms during their freshmen year, they must still adapt to life without many of the safety nets they had growing up. Which brings us back to how to ensure Home Economics courses – perhaps Life Economics is a better name – are made available to students still in high school. Something as simple as having a workshop or a club that meets once a week during school could greatly benefit a number of students.

According to assistant principal Eric Mapes, the school administration has worried about this issue, this lack of preparation, before and is considering addressing it at the next student forum. Administration simply does not know how to go about the problem and is looking for student guidance. If they start a class will students sign up? Most students are heavily invested in boosting their GPA and may not want to take time out of their schedule when they could take a weighted class instead.

Possibly a semester long class that can be taken alongside Social Psych would be most beneficial as students could simultaneously learn the everyday, social and functional do’s and don’t’s. For those that do not want to lower their GPA, another option could be to incorporate individual lessons into an already mandatory class such as Economics. If Econ can spend a day or two teaching students everything they need to know about taxes, an entire class focused on personal finances may not be necessary. Perhaps just a VoCo speaker or a lunch workshop would be best, allowing students to attend whichever lessons they themselves need to learn. There are a lot of opportunities and options for a broader education, and the administration team has considered some of them. What they truly lack is a student voice to turn these ideas into plans.

Many of my peers have expressed their frustration and gradual acceptance towards their lack of basic life skills, but few students have tried to take action. Perhaps all we need is to speak up. Our administration is looking to make a change, so now the real question is, are our students?