The perfect class for high school kids!

Kids in high school study lots of different subjects and still they’re missing out on some really important things.

I spent twenty years in a high school classroom, doing my best to impart some modicum of wisdom to my students. I’ve seen some of those kids grow up. I also have four foster children now in their twenties. I mention these young people because sometimes they baffle me with the things they don’t know.

I realize now that with all the science, history, math, English, and other courses we made them take, some practical stuff might have gotten lost along the way. So, even though I’m retired from teaching, I’ve put together the perfect course that should be required for all high school students in the country.

First, every child must take what we used to call home economics. I’m sure women in my age group remember the girls-only class where we learned home management, how to cook simple healthy meals, and the basics of sewing. But why were boys not required to take home ec? Of course, back then, those jobs were considered “women’s“ work, still don’t you agree that today everyone needs those skills?

You’ll notice the word economics in that dusty, old course, and wow is that important. Often, my students didn’t know the difference between a credit and a debit card. Nor did they understand what an interest payment was or a mortgage or a budget. Checking and savings accounts were mostly foriegn. I used to show them my paycheck and tried to explain Social Security and state and local tax deductions and they were stunned by the idea that they didn’t get to keep their entire paychecks.

“Why are they taking our money?” they’d bark back.

Wouldn’t it be cool if girls learned about auto mechanics?

“To pay for things like schools and roads, police and firefighters, health programs and the military,” I’d explain.

“The government should pay for that!”

And then I’d try very hard not to roll my eyes. “Taxpayers are the government!”

Another important class was auto mechanics, which—perhaps not surprisingly—was only taught to boys. In my world, girls would understand how to change a tire, jump start an engine, and decode the meaning of some of those strange noises that periodically emanate from under the hood. And they would all understand the importance of having roadside assistance, so they don’t have to wake up Mom and Dad in the middle of the night when the car is misbehaving. (You know who you are!)

Speaking of cars…whatever happened to driver’s ed? Anyone who takes to the roads knows that many people have no idea what they’re doing out there. No one seems to understand what a turn signal is for, or the meaning of those lines painted on the road, or why it’s a bad idea to text a buddy when behind the wheel. So let’s require some professional intruction, as opposed to learning from some family member who may know nothing about good driving.

And how about a few lessons on simple home repairs, like fixing a running toilet, or patching a hole in the drywall, or clearing a clogged drain. Useful, yes?

I would definitely make my students talk with one another face-to-face.

Health class is currently required in many schools, though I’m unsure of what exactly they’re teaching. I still recall the young lady who pointed out that it is simply impossible to get pregnant the first time you have sex. Methinks a little sex ed, though highly controversial in some states, should be required in this day and age. That and physical education, which used to be obligatory, but is now reserved for coaches to keep their team members lifting weights on a regular basis. Instead, I’d get my students outside, sans electronic devices, if only to give them a chance to walk a mile or so on the track on a regular basis.

Finally, I’d teach communication skills, which are sadly disappearing at an alarming rate. Yep, I’d make them put those phones down and actually talk to one another in person, making actual eye contact in the process. I’d add that dreaded of all skills, public speaking, as well as resume writing and career planning.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. How could I possibly get all of this into one class? Because it would be a year-long, two-semester course. I know working everything in is possible because I once taught world history where I was expected to teach the beginning of humankind to the French Revolution. Compared to that, my course would be easy.

At this point, you’re probably wondering what I’d call my class.

That’s easy. I’d call it Life.

Find Anne Montgomery’s novels wherever you buy books.



8 thoughts on “The perfect class for high school kids!

  1. Jeff Leaf says:

    Wow! Someone who wants students to learn something useful in school. There is hope. You sound like me when my buttons are pushed. I taught Tech Ed. I worked into my classes critical thinking, problem-solving and communications. We used tools to build stuff. Unfortunately, most administrators don’t know how to quantify student performance in your class. If we can’t put objective numbers on what they do, we can’t teach it. Plus, isn’t the goal of school to prepare all kids for college? So, any of that stuff that students need to learn, they learn where they learn about sex, on the street.


    • annemontgomeryauthor2013 says:

      Agreed, Jeff! I was especially frustrated when my communicationsw classes were shut down so everybody could take STEM classes. I tried pointing out that even engineers need communication skills, but no one believed me. Ugh!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s