By Amanda Fisher and Grace Smith, Aviator staff writers
The Crimson Aviator interviewed seven seniors who volunteered to reflect on their high school education and how well it did or didn’t prepare them for the real world.
Students agreed that the Common Core requirements, and schooling in general, should have a greater focus on career and real-life skills instead of concepts that’ll be forgotten and unused within a few years.
“I would maybe make it so that you don’t have to take as many math classes and science classes and more have paths that you can take – like you take a certain number of these kinds of classes if you want to go into this sort of field,” says senior Cambria Sinclair.
When asked if school had prepared her for the years to come, Sinclair voiced her dislike for the system.
“I really don’t think so, because with what I want to go into – which is fashion design – they don’t really have anything here,” she said. “And with math, we’re learning the unit circle right now, and I can’t really think of any instance where I’d ever use that.”
Sam Williquette agreed that what’s being taught isn’t always useful for the years to come.
“When am I ever going to use algebra in the real world?” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff that we really don’t need to learn, and it’s not really standard for life.”
On the topic of subjects that help (or don’t help) students prepare for the real world, many seniors believe that one key concept is missing. High schoolers are never really taught the basic things they’ll need to know after graduating.
“I know that there are teens who get out into the real world and they don’t know what to do with themselves,” said Gavin Meriable.
Instead of focusing on memorization and pointless facts, Andrew Neerdaels says there should be more focus on information that will prove useful.
“I would bring it all the way down to elementary level,” he said, “and make less emphasis on the letter grade and memorizing answers to questions and more of actually wanting to learn stuff and know real knowledge instead of memorizing trivial facts to get you an A on a test.”
Molly Dobberpuhl agrees that schooling should go beyond the basic common core knowledge with more focus on important life skills.
“We should learn more how to write a check book, and more life skills should be taught rather than emphasising on making the kids smarter,” she said. “Also basic stuff you should know like how to cook and how to balance a checkbook.”
Of course, there are lessons in school that can be used in the real world and career, according to the seven seniors.
“I think some things like Spanish and the foreign languages are really useful.” said Sinclair.
“Classes like public speaking, more of the social studies classes about world issues, and then foreign languages and just social classes – classes that help you speak,” said Meriable.
Alden Hunt, who said he aims to be an engineer, said he has benefitted from challenges in difficult classes in science and math.
“I think a good writing course is pretty essential, too,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be an AP course – just getting you to write, because you’re going to be doing a lot of that for the rest of your life.”
Among all of the answers that students interviewed gave, real world use seemed to be a common theme. Whether it’s subjects that assist their career path or just classes that offer experience in life skills, those are the topics that students want to learn and enjoy learning.
“I feel like they could add important things like that into our core classes instead of taking a bonus class that we may or may not have time for,” suggests Elise Gastelum.
Currently, students have to compromise an elective or extra class in order to take personal finance, something that many feel should be a requirement. Out of the students interviewed, all nodded at the idea of necessitating a class meant for teaching the important lessons about financing, spending, and more.
“It’s a really good skill and you might learn it from your parents but not all parents might think to teach their kids that,” said Sinclair.
Not everyone blames the district for the curriculum deficits, though.
“I know a lot of the problems are at a statewide level, not at a school-wide level,” Hunt said.
In a perfect world, success in school would be more about actual knowledge and life skills and less about memorizing material that would only prove useful in a game of Trivia Crack.