When was the last time you used trigonometry in life? Did anything ever come out of learning Hot Cross Buns on that annoying instrument they call a recorder? How about climbing that rope in gym class?
Seriously, though, were these lessons absolutely necessary to learn in school, or were they all just a waste of time? It’s pretty safe to say that not many people – if any at all – have been faced with a life-or-death situation that required them to recite Romeo and Juliet by memory on the spot.
As society continues to evolve and advance, older school curricula become outdated. By updating these curricula to better reflect the modern needs of society, it will only benefit current and future generations – and parenting expert Ann Douglas has a few suggestions on how to tweak it.
So what exactly are those skills that schools overlook that kids today are missing out on that could help them in their future?
Douglas has a few ideas.
1. Coding and the art of learning
Put simply, this would be a course that teaches students how to learn.
While teaching children to computer code today is important, Douglas argues this type of computer language will most likely become obsolete in the future. That’s why teachers also need to think further ahead into the future and offer a more adaptable skill.
“We know the world is changing at a rapid rate,” Douglas says. “So we don’t know 100 per cent what it is kids are going to have to know in five, 10 or 20 years down the road … So instead we want to teach them how to learn – so whatever skill it is they’ll have to know in years to come, they’ll have a method for acquiring new information and remaining up to date on new skills so they’ll never have to worry about being completely out of touch and obsolete.”
2. How to fix anything
This course, Douglas explains, would be how to teach kids how to repair anything and everything that appears in our lives.
“It could be clothing repair, how to fix a light fixture or how to troubleshoot a plumbing emergency and all of those kinds of things,” she says. “The rationale here is twofold: first there are the environmental benefits. You don’t always have to throw away a sweater with a broken zipper, or that toaster that only needs a simple repair … And second, there’s also the self-sufficiency piece where, if something goes wrong in the middle of the night, you have a hope of fixing this problem on your own.”
3. How to be human
Working on your employment potential is essential. But working your personal life – rather than just your professional life – is just as important, Douglas says. So she suggests a course in developing one’s self.
“This course would include very practical, applied, social-emotion learning,” Douglas explains. “So it would be how to thrive as a human being, how to nurture and sustain relationships, how to make your emotions work for – as opposed to against — you, and how to hit the pause button when you’re tempted to react impulsively.”
This will help kids find that balance they need in life, as well as grow as compassionate, understanding and proactive people in life.
4. Body fuel
In keeping with the theme of taking care of one’s self, Douglas thinks kids should also be taught how to take care of their health through nutrition. This course would go beyond the typical home economics teachings, a dive a bit deeper and focus more on health rather than just cooking.
“This would be about eating well, as well as how to prepare nutritious and delicious meals and budget for food,” Douglas says. “It would be a practical course but also talk about the importance of nutrition in fueling the body – the role of proteins versus carbohydrates versus fats. It would also teach you how to eat more intuitively, to notice how you feel when you eat particular types of foods and to respond to your body’s sensations of hunger and fullness.”
Two surveys were carried out: the first survey was completed by 6,665 respondents and the second was completed by 5,494. The purpose was to match Canadians’ perception of their own health and diet status versus their actual health status, as well as their concern about their own diet and beliefs of health.