There’s no doubt that our school system needs an overhaul. As someone who teaches in an American public high school, I can definitively say that for everything we’re doing right — and believe me, there is a lot that we are doing right — there are many more things we could be doing to make the public education system truly beneficial to the people we serve.
The impossible (and impossibly out-of-touch) policies dictated by legislators with little to no knowledge of the psychology of education are certainly a large part of the problem, including their insistence that we ensure the “college readiness” of all our students. But while “college readiness” is important for some of our students and serves those whose future plans include post-secondary educational pursuits, what about those interested in pursuing technical and trades careers, both of which are equally as necessary, as rewarding, and as beneficial to society? Why are we not doing more to reach this population? Moreover, what about “life readiness”? Isn’t being prepared to live as an adult in the world just about the most important bit of knowledge we could bestow upon our future generations?
As academic requirements for students have become more stringent and test scores for schools more critical to their continued funding, a lot of classes that used to be offered to students as electives in high schools have been severely reduced in number or cut from the curriculum altogether. Classes such as home economics, woodshop, and personal finance, which instructed students in such basic life skills as cooking, building, and managing a budget, have taken a backseat to what many consider to be “core academics.” And the result? Generations of high school graduates incapable of performing the most basic of tasks.
But one Kentucky school — Bullitt Central High School in Shepherdsville, Kentucky — aimed to address this widespread problem through its first-ever ‘Adulting Conference’ that exposed students to instruction in skills not often covered in the curriculum these days.
According to its Facebook page, the school held their conference for seniors at the end of last year. Students were able to select 3 of 11 workshops to attend, each one focusing on practical life skills, such as “everything from how to change a tire and how to file taxes to how to cook in a dorm room,” reports People.
According to Christy Hardin, director of the BCHS Family Resource & Youth Services Center and the organizer of the ‘Adulting Conference’:
I think that the idea occurred to me originally, I saw a Facebook post that parents passed around saying they needed a class in high school on taxes, and cooking. Our kids can get that, but they have to choose it. And (Adulting Day) was a day they could pick and choose pieces they didn’t feel like they had gotten so far.
While teaching children basic life skills is something that certainly falls on parents, considering the sheer number of hours kids spend at school per year, our schools should also be providing opportunities to students to master the simplest and most crucial of know-hows for functioning in the world as self-sufficient adults and citizens.
Here’s to hoping BCHS continues its ‘Adulting Conference’ for years to come, that other schools follow their lead and provide similar opportunities to students in their care, and that our policymakers consider changes to educational policy that allow school districts to teach the whole child in meaningful and beneficial ways.