Are students being taught all the skills they need?
When graduating from high school, students should theoretically be able to take care of themselves as adults. They are expected to know how to do any skill that will be necessary during their adult lives.
However, the reality is that some students graduate high school not knowing how to do basic skills such as how to get a job, do their own laundry, or pay bills. Once they become adults, they are expected to learn how to accomplish these skills on their own.
“I don’t know how to do skills like pay taxes or bills. I guess I’ll just wing it when the time comes. I think it would be good for there to be a class like life skills that teaches you all these things,” said senior Julio Medina.
When thrust into adulthood, skills like managing money, cooking, and buying a house or car are skills that some students struggle with. Unless a student’s parent or guardian taught them how to accomplish these skills, the student might head to college and have little idea of how to properly support themselves.
“[I had trouble] remembering when I needed to buy things that my parents would have bought at home and remembering to get enough sleep because at college there’s no one to remind me,” said class of 2013 graduate Laura Ong.
Although 78 percent of students who were surveyed at Carlmont know how to cook and 82 percent know how to do laundry, there are still those who do not. As a result, these students may go to college or the workplace without being able to make more than instant ramen and will have times when their white socks will turn pink.
In the past, high schools had home economics, metal shop, or auto shop class where students would learn these skills. However, due to budget cuts and the growing emphasis on the UC A through G learning requirements, those classes have faded away.
Instructional Vice Principal Ralph Crame said, “It’s a shame that some of those classes have gone away. Many students would benefit from learning those skills. It’s always a point of discussion to try and figure out how to bring them back.”
Electives such as Film Critique and Video Production, Choir, Journalism, and Illustration and Design are useful for students who plan to major in specific fields, but they do not teach basic life skills such as how to care for a house.
Junior Adrian Chan said, “I feel as though students at Carlmont are not taught basic home skills such as how to read the labels on clothes and what they mean (spin only, hand wash etc). Although I do wish I knew how to do the things above, I think that teaching these skills is not a job that schools should be required to do, because it is so non-academic.”
Life Skills, a required class for all freshman, does teach certain skills. The skills are mainly to help students socially and mentally, such as how to not get stressed, and they help freshman navigate high school and the rest of their lives.
At Carlmont, classes such as Business Math and Economics can help to prepare students for managing their finances in real life. They teach skills that can be used when running a company or business in the future.
“Business Math trains students to use their brain. If they understand how they learn, then they will be able to learn a new skill. I aim to teach them math skills that they will use on a daily basis,” said Business Math teacher Jim Kelly.
Classes like Business Math are going the way of Home Economics and metalshop. Word is that next year the class will no longer be an option to take. Very few students take it now as compared to the amount who took it in the past.
Kelly said, “Students used to take Business Math when it fulfilled a math requirement, but it no longer does. In fact, I had two full classes every year. In years past I would have 70 students, and this year I have 12. It’s too bad because a lot of students could benefit from it.”
Although learning these skills is mainly done at home or through college students googling how to do xyz, they are essential tools to surviving life beyond high school.