4 Things You Should Have Learned in High School, but Probably Didn’t

From sex education to finance management - there are many things that should be a part of high school training for a healthy life.
High school education
High school education should include discussions around personal finance management, household management and even sex.
HT Brand Studio Published: 21 Jul 2023, 11:08 pm IST
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Even without book banning, curriculum restrictions, the politicisation of US schools and teacher shortages, you can’t learn everything in high school. Even the best, all-encompassing curriculum will have gaps. Because there simply isn’t time to cover everything you need to know. Unfortunately, some of the most important things in life aren’t taught in school in the first place. From cooking and cleaning to making love, some of life’s most important lessons aren’t taught in the classroom. Read on to learn about four essential things you should have learned in high school, but probably didn’t.

1. How To Practice Safe Sex

Sex is an important, but sometimes complicated, part of life for many people. Everyone has different needs, desires, and preferences to recognise and navigate. However, most high school sex ed classes just teach that anatomy and birth control are important. (And some still only preach abstinence.) While these basics are very important, there’s also so much more that contributes to a physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy sex life.

Learning about what you and your partner like, don’t like, and how to communicate the difference is a crucial safe sex practice. That’s because effective communication is vital for creating a safe and enjoyable sexual experience for everyone involved. Respecting boundaries, desires, and consent are fundamental aspects of any healthy sexual relationship.

By engaging in open and honest conversations about sex, you can establish trust and mutual understanding. Discussing topics like birth control, STI testing, and sexual history is essential for making educated decisions.

To educate yourself about safe sex practices, consult reliable books, websites, and organizations such as Planned Parenthood. You can also access birth control online, eliminating the need for a lengthy doctor’s appointment. These resources will provide you with a wide range of information, skills, and essential medications if needed. Likewise, you can discuss sex with trusted healthcare professionals who can address your questions and concerns. Remember, there’s no shame in asking about something you don’t know. Asking questions is the first step toward a greater level of understanding and sexual responsibility.

2. Personal Finance Essentials

Like it or not, money is a necessity. In general, the more of it you have, the more freedom you have to do as you please. However, many people leave high school and enter adulthood without a solid understanding of how to handle money. Worse, many take on wild amounts of debt through student loans or a mortgage without a plan of how to pay it off.

You can start learning about personal finance by studying budgeting, saving, investing, and managing debt. Doing so will enable you to make informed decisions about money, set financial goals, and develop healthy money habits.

Thankfully, there’s excellent reading available on the subject. Both, “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey and “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” by Ramit Sethi will help you get your bearings. They provide practical advice and strategies for building your financial foundation. Additionally, you can learn from others in online communities and forums dedicated to personal finance.

If you really want to deepen your knowledge of personal finance, you might consider taking online courses or attending in-person workshops. Many will provide you with extensive knowledge and skill sets that you can continue to refine over time. Personal finance is an essential skill that will affect almost every area of your life. If you feel your education is lacking in the subject, find a way to supplement your knowledge.

3. How to Manage a Household

Another area where many high school curricula fall short is in teaching practical household skills through Family and Consumer Science classes. FCS classes, also known as home economics, traditionally covered topics such as cooking, sewing, child care, nutrition, personal hygiene and basic financial management. However, these life skills courses have been gradually phased out in many schools, resulting in a generation of young adults who may lack the essential knowledge and skills necessary for running a household.

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Maintaining a home involves a range of responsibilities, from meal planning and grocery shopping to cleaning, budgeting, and basic home maintenance. Think about how many people don’t know how to do laundry when they move out of their parent’s house. Flooded laundry rooms and bleached or shrunken clothing wastes time and money, especially when you have to throw out your favourite shirt.

There are various resources available, such as online courses, community workshops, books, and instructional videos, that can provide guidance on these essential life skills. You could also seek guidance from experienced family members, friends, or community organizations. These skills are not only essential for everyday living but can also contribute to personal well-being, family relationships, and overall quality of life.

4. Critical Thinking Skills

There’s more than one way to think. And, unfortunately, high school often prioritises teaching memorization. While remembering and recalling information is definitely important, information is much more valuable if you can use it to make intelligent decisions. Critical thinking is the skill that leverages information to do so.

Spelled out, critical thinking is the ability to think rationally and understand the logical connection between specific ideas. The process of critical thinking can be divided into four main elements: observation, analysis, judgment and application. First, you use your powers of observation to absorb information. Then you analyze the facts to extract important elements. With those in mind, you can then make an informed judgment. Finally, you can apply that judgment to make an educated decision.

You’d be surprised at how often you can use it to improve the quality of your everyday life. For example, you can use critical thinking to evaluate the credibility of various news sources. Or you can use it for problem-solving and decision-making at work. The world is complex, but developing your critical thinking skills can help you navigate it more effectively and with greater agency.

Developing this skill takes practice. Vet new information with skepticism, think about how you know it’s accurate, and consider more than one viewpoint. One of the best ways to develop critical thinking is to take advantage of moments when you’re wrong. When you experience failure, it provides an opportunity to reflect. By analyzing your mistakes, you can gain insights into underlying issues, think about other perspectives, and recognize your assumptions or biases.

Further Learning

High school is a crucial time for learning essential life skills. But just because you’re not in school anymore doesn’t mean you can’t learn. In fact, continuing to learn throughout life is increasingly important in an ever-changing world. While the skills listed above are essential, there’s so much more to learn. Do your best to approach life with a mindset of genuine curiosity.

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