+
upworthy
Education

8 classes that should be required for all students before they hit adulthood

If we want to prepare kids for adult life, we've got some glaring gaps to fill.

8 classes that should be required for all students before they hit adulthood
Photo by Sam Balye on Unsplash

Why aren't we teaching students the things they really need to know as adults?

I remember sitting in advanced algebra and trigonometry class in high school wondering if I was really ever going to use any of what I was learning. Math at that level meant nothing to me in a practical sense. I planned to study English and education to become an English teacher, so I couldn't imagine why I'd need to learn the ins and outs of trig.

As it turned out, some of what I learned came in handy in the functions class I was required to take to fulfill my math requirement in college. But again, I found myself sitting in class with zero idea of why I was learning this level of math and suspecting that I was never going to actually use that knowledge in my adult life.

Now I'm a middle-aged adult and I can say with absolute certainty that I was right. In 27 years, I have not used anything I learned in functions. Not once. Not even a little bit. I agonized my way through that class to eek out a B-minus and to promptly forget everything I'd learned because it was utterly useless to me.

To be clear, higher math isn't useless—it's amazing. It was just completely useless to me.



You know what would have been useful? Learning about financing a car or a mortgage or understanding how and why and where to invest money. In all that time I was doing trigonometric proofs and calculating polynomial functions, I could have been learning all the various real-life math-related decisions I'd have to make as an adult.

I see the same thing happening with my kids in high school and college. It totally makes sense for students who are interested in going into math and science fields to take math beyond basic algebra and geometry. But for those who aren't—why? There are so many more valuable things for them to take the time to learn—things that every single person really needs a basic knowledge of, such as:

Basic Psychology/Mental Health Maintenance

Every one of us has a brain and mental health is an issue for a huge percentage of people. Even those of us who don't struggle with mental illness benefit from learning about how our minds work, gaining strategies for managing our thoughts, emotions and behaviors, and understanding why people do the things they do.

How many people would have been saved by learning how to spot a narcissist before getting into a relationship with one? How many people could mitigate an anxiety spiral right when it starts because they learned to recognize the signs earlier? How many people would appreciate the support and understanding of everyone having a basic understanding of their mental health disorders?

Basic Sociology/Human Behavior

Similarly, every one of us lives in a society. Understanding social connections, relationships and group behavior might kind of come in handy. If we don't understand the causes and consequences of human behavior, we're going to be confused by society at best and allow or enable atrocities to occur at worst.

From learning how cults and conspiracy theories work to recognizing how our prejudices can blind us to reality, sociology has useful knowledge we all need to internalize.

Media Literacy

If we're going to be bombarded with media 24/7, we'd better know how to process it. Understanding how journalism works, what makes a source credible, how information can be skewed and how to recognize misinformation and disinformation is vital. What is bias and how can it be mitigated? How can we recognize when an outlet values accuracy?

So many of the problems the U.S. is facing currently are due to people watching or listening to dubious news sources. Mandatory media literacy courses would (hopefully) go a long way toward changing that.

The Stock Market and Other Investments

I underestimated how much I'd need to know about the stock market when I was younger. None of that economic stuff interested me, but I wish I understood it better now.

But really, it's investing in general that we need to understand more about when we're younger, especially since starting young is the No. 1 best advice any financial advisor will give you.

How Banking, Credit and Credit Cards Work

Every single one of us uses a bank or credit union and credit is a huge part of adult life. And yet most people I know have had to piece together how credit and credit cards actually work through advice from friends and family and good old trial and error, sometimes with devastating consequences.

Taxes

Good gracious, right? Not just how to do taxes, but what taxes get used for.

Financial literacy is what I'm saying. We need mandatory financial literacy classes. (Florida has actually just become the first state to require personal finance education to graduate, so yay Florida.) I think I was required to take economics in high school, but it was much more high-level economic theory than personal finance. We need personal finance first, then the bigger picture.

First Aid/Safety/Self-Defense

Most of us probably got some first aid and/or CPR training in health class, but how comprehensive was it? Did it include infant CPR? Do we know how to recognize if someone is having a stroke? Signs of infection?

What about basic everyday safety, like why you shouldn't leave a car running in a garage or common household fire dangers or how to spot asbestos?

Self-defense seems like a no-brainer. Basically, a "How to Stay Alive and Keep Others Alive" course that includes most everything you need to know to protect yourself and your loved ones on a daily basis.

Navigating our Healthcare and Health Insurance System

Ugh. I've been an adult for almost three decades and everything about our healthcare system confuses and frustrates me. Maybe if we required schools to teach young people how it works, it would shine a big spotlight on how ridiculously and unnecessarily complicated it is because no one could possibly explain it in a way that's understandable. Maybe that would push lawmakers to actually do something about it, because honestly, it's just a gigantic mess.

There are surely others, but those are the major subjects that come to mind as vital after being an adult for a long while and seeing what my own kids need to have a decent grasp on as they make their way into the world. And honestly, there are some classes that adults should be required to take well into adulthood. Parenting classes, for example. Or local government and voting.

All subjects and courses have value to some people, but if we want students to be prepared for adulthood, we should make sure they are given the vital knowledge and skills every person actually needs and will use.


This article originally appeared on 03.25.22

Community

How to end hunger, according to the people who face it daily

Here’s what people facing food insecurity want you to know about solving the hunger problem in America

True

Even though America is the world’s wealthiest nation, about 1 in 6 of our neighbors turned to food banks and community programs in order to feed themselves and their families last year. Think about it: More than 9 million children faced hunger in 2021 (1 in 8 children).

In order to solve a problem, we must first understand it. Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, released its second annual Elevating Voices: Insights Report and turned to the experts—people experiencing hunger—to find out how this issue can be solved once and for all.

Here are the four most important things people facing hunger want you to know.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pets

Family brings home the wrong dog from daycare until their cats saved the day

A quick trip to the vet confirmed the cats' and family's suspicions.

Family accidentally brings wrong dog home but their cats knew

It's not a secret that nearly all golden retrievers are identical. Honestly, magic has to be involved for owners to know which one belongs to them when more than one golden retriever is around. Seriously, how do they all seem have the same face? It's like someone fell asleep on the copy machine when they were being created.

Outside of collars, harnesses and bandanas, immediately identifying the dog that belongs to you has to be a secret skill because at first glance, their personalities are also super similar. That's why it's not surprising when one family dropped off their sweet golden pooch at daycare and to be groomed, they didn't notice the daycare sent out the wrong dog.

See, not even their human parents can tell them apart because when the swapped dog got home, nothing seemed odd to the owners at first. She was freshly groomed so any small differences were quickly brushed off. But this accidental doppelgänger wasn't fooling her feline siblings.

Keep ReadingShow less

A guy passes out on his bed eating pizza.

A 29-year-old woman had a baby girl, and after a brief maternity leave, she had to return to work. She couldn't afford childcare, so her husband, 35, reluctantly agreed to watch the baby while she was at work.

“It’s important to know that he’s been unemployed since 2021,” the woman wrote on Reddit’s AITA subforum. “He receives benefits. It’s also important to know that he’s extremely lazy. He doesn’t cook, clean, or help out in any way. I was nervous about leaving her home with her father, but I had no choice.”

The mother had reason to be worried about leaving her baby home alone with her husband, but in the beginning, things seemed fine. “When I came back from work, she was clean and sleeping. The next few times I came home, he was either playing with her, feeding her, or out for a walk with her. I was happy,” she wrote.

Keep ReadingShow less

A boy doing the dishes.

A 41-year-old mom with 3 boys, 12-year-old twins, and a 10-year-old, pays them $10 daily to do their chores. However, their pay is deducted $10 if they miss a day. The boys have to do their tasks 5 days a week, although it doesn’t matter which days they choose to work.

“This system has worked swimmingly for us since it started, the boys have always complied with completing their chores,” the mom wrote on Reddit.

Her 12-year-old son was getting ready to play Fortnite with a friend and told him he’d be ready in 15 minutes once he finished his chores. When the boys started playing the game, he told the friend he was in charge of dusting and sweeping the stairs, to which the friend responded, “It’s a good thing my parents don’t make me do girl chores.”

After learning what the friend said, the mom told her son that chores are genderless.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

Women do better when they have female friends.

Madeleine Albright once said, "There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." It turns out that might actually be a hell on Earth, because women just do better when they have other women to rely on, and there's research that backs it up.

A study published in the Harvard Business Review found that women who have a strong circle of friends are more likely to get executive positions with higher pay. "Women who were in the top quartile of centrality and had a female-dominated inner circle of 1-3 women landed leadership positions that were 2.5 times higher in authority and pay than those of their female peers lacking this combination," Brian Uzzi writes in the Harvard Business Review.

Part of the reason why women with strong women backing them up are more successful is because they can turn to their tribe for advice. Women have to face different challenges than men, such as unconscious bias, and being able to turn to other women who have had similar experiences can help you navigate a difficult situation. It's like having a road map for your goals.

Keep ReadingShow less

Derrick Downey Jr. has been dubbed the 'squirrel whisperer.'

Most of us who live in the U.S. are used to looking out a window or walking out our front door and seeing squirrels. The cute, fluffy-tailed rodents often appear perfectly pettable, but they generally scamper away when humans get too close.

That is not the case for TikTok creator Derrick Downey Jr., however, as he has not only befriended his neighborhood squirrels but goes all out to help them live their best squirrel lives.

Downey shared a video in May of 2022 in which he chats with a couple of squirrels on his porch while feeding them and offering them water. That video received over 26 million views and kicked off a whole series of videos showcasing the adorable antics of Richard, Maxine, Hector, Consuela, Norma (may she rest in peace), and Hood Rat Raymond. He's built Richard a house, rescued Maxine's babies, mourned Norma's transition (to wherever squirrels go when they die) and more.

People can't get enough, and who can blame them? Squirrels are the best (when they're not tearing up your patio furniture and stealing cotton for their nest, as Downey has experienced.)

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

Voice recordings of people who were enslaved offer incredible first-person accounts of U.S. history

"The results of these digitally enhanced recordings are arresting, almost unbelievable. The idea of hearing the voices of actual slaves from the plantations of the Old South is as powerful—as startling, really—as if you could hear Abraham Lincoln or Robert E. Lee speak." - Ted Koppel

Library of Congress

When we think about the era of American slavery, many of us tend to think of it as the far distant past. While slavery doesn't exist as a formal institution today, there are people living who knew formerly enslaved black Americans first-hand. In the wide arc of history, the legal enslavement of people on U.S. soil is a recent occurrence—so recent, in fact, that we have voice recordings of interviews with people who lived it.

Keep ReadingShow less