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6 Subjects That Should Be Mainstream In All Schools (But Aren't)

Through conversations and observation, it's obvious that the current education system is not keeping up with the times. Current curriculums still feel like they are preparing students for the factory line with grade and exam focused learning. I've had the privilege to work with young people from varying backgrounds and have seen the gaps. I am not saying that the subjects taught in todays schools are irrelevant, I just believe the framework could be improved in terms of delivery and consideration of what I think are very relevant subjects (lessons that will continue to be useful despite changing global trends). Some of the topics mentioned are available in some schools and there are similar subjects like personal, social and health education (PSHE), citizenship, physical education (PE) that touch on similar lessons but are not yet widespread.

Well-being Education

There has been improvement on this subject in the last few years, more schools are trying to incorporate ways for young students to learn about mental health and well-being. However, it is not yet a standard for most. Many schools would host workshops and activity days but for the most part, the aspect of mental health is left entirely up to the school’s wellbeing lead, if they have one. What is discussed during mental health talks can sometimes feels superficial or the opposite, too dark and clinical. More thought needs to go into planning a curriculum that includes well-being education, and to make it relatable for young people. Mental health is just one part, to help our students gain the knowledge needed to take care of their wellbeing, we should be thinking about all the contributing factors, and teach topics such as nutrition, physical health, emotional management, relationships etc.

Financial Well-being

When I was younger, I thought learning maths in school was partially to help students understand money. I was surprised when I didn't need algebra formulas when paying taxes or use quadratic equations to choose a savings plan. I don't think math subjects are a waste of time, I just think there needs to be more instruction for students to learn about managing their finances. We are talking about responsibilities few can escape as an adult like bills, taxes, loans, budgets, savings, investments etc. Financial well-being is about is about a sense of security and confidence being in control of day-to-day finances. Talking to my students, many feel like becoming financially independent is something they have to wing it and figure it out on their own. It is an essential topic to teach future generations.


Gardening

There are many valuable skills and lessons young people could learn through gardening. It is an interactive activity that engages all senses and helps with stress management, well-being and confidence building. It is a hands-on way to introduce students to science topics such as nutrition, botany and chemistry. Including gardening as a subject at school is an opportunity for students to practice responsibility and teamwork. It is an added bonus that involving students in garden work increases their physical activity and develops motor skills through activities like digging, weeding, sowing etc. A final added bonus is that the produce from harvest could serve as healthy meals for school lunch.

Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking is all about teaching students to investigate, evaluate available information, and formulate meaningful questions to form better judgment or decisions. It is a key skill that should be encouraged from an early age. Instead of memorisation and exam focused subjects, providing the right critical thinking frameworks and activities helps students develop their ability to reason, enquire and problem-solve. A broad life-skill that can be applied to many different situations in everyday life and gives ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking.


Career Building

I've heard the saying "go to school, get an education, and then get a good job" many times. Growing up I thought the path was that simple. Yet the economy and job market is in constant flux, and with technology advancing change is happening much quicker. Sometimes people argue that teaching students about work at a young age could pressure children towards a particular career or cause them to make decisions pre-maturely. I think this is a matter of content and how lessons are delivered. If careers education is delivered in a way where students are invited to explore options with wide range of work-like experiences it could help young people tackle stereotypes, broaden horizons, and raise aspirations



Home Economics

You might have had the popular subject Home Economics at your school but it's a shame that not every school includes it in the curriculum. This curriculum guidance describes Home economics as a subject that "combines aspects of science, nutrition, cooking, parenting skills and finance". After some investigation, I learned that most students learned some cooking and sewing skills, and sprinkles of other home-life skills though PSHE (Personal, Social, Health, Education) but spent little time on it. It's funny how so many people only attempt basic home economic skills only when they are in university or later. Of course every household is different, depending on culture and location so schools should identify most common household tasks and evaluate students level of experience to form the right lesson plan.


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