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What Do You Wish You Had Learned in School?

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Our world is a complex place that’s growing moreso everyday, and we want to know how well our education system is preparing us for it. It doesn’t matter whether you are just entering high-school, knee deep in a PHD or twenty years out in the field, we want to know what you wish you had learned in school to prepare you for where you are right now. So tell us your stories, and let’s try to get a sense for where our global education system is succeeding and where it is falling short. Submit your response today!

What I Didn’t Learn in School But Learned in Life

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I went to high school at Gulliver Preparatory, a private high school in Miami, FL. While their reputation is excellent, I didn’t feel I was any more prepared for college or the real world as the next person at UF. I had the opportunity to take electives such as economics and war strategy that may or may not be offered at other high schools, however, I don’t think I could have just tackled life right out of high school and that wasn’t the plan for any of the graduates. The plan was college. I attended UF with no idea of what I was interested in doing. I started as Interior Design, went undecided after determining that was not a program I wanted to do, switched to English, then had so settle on something that could actually get me a job so I went with TV Production. As you can see, I wanted to be in a creative field. I’ve always enjoyed making something out of...

Experience is Education

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I recently finished reading an incredible book called Purple Cow by Seth Godin. It’s a great, short read! In it is an excerpt that has really stuck with me that I feel is incredibly appropriate here… “Where did you learn to fail? If you’re like most Americans, it was in the first grade. That’s when you started figuring out that the safe thing to do was to fit in. The safe thing to do was was to color inside the lines, don’t ask too many questions in class, and whatever you do, be sure your homework assignment fits on the supplied piece of card stock. We run our schools like factories. We line kids up in straight rows, put them in batches (called grades), and work very hard to make sure there are no defective parts. Nobody standing out, falling behind, running ahead, making a ruckus…” How true is this? We mold children from the start and...

My Suggestions

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I wish I got to learn about banking, taxes, credit cards, savings accounts, retirement funds, how to balance a check book, insurance, debt management, and credit ratings in school. These are all important things in everyone’s lives, and many people are going into debt and staying there partially because they don’t understand these important things. Of course there are poor people if the government insists on trying to have students understand irrelevant old English and coming up with lies in essays to try argue what themes or metaphors (that probably don’t exist) are in a texts, instead of teaching the practical life skill of money management and teaching the systems that everyone will need to use when they’re adults, compared to history and all the other stuff that adults won’t need to know. And so, there needs to be more education on writing effectively to...

Answering Questions Versus Asking Them

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I wish I had learned to explore more in school. Instead of just opening a textbook and looking for a specific answer to a specific question, I wish I would’ve just gotten to read the book and choose for myself what was important and what wasn’t. I know that it helps to have an experienced person guide you through using questions, but sometimes I just want to read. But when I have a task to finish or questions to answer, I feel like I can’t take the time to just enjoy the subject matter. Obviously some subjects are more interesting than others, but that varies for each student. I wish there had been less emphasis on answering questions and more emphasis on asking them. Now, being older, I find myself reading articles about random things, and those articles link to other articles and I find myself in a black hole of articles, but I’m learning things, and enjoying...

Things I Didn’t Realize

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School taught me a lot of things I didn’t realize it was teaching me at the time, like how to be a good friend to others, how to listen and pay attention, and that it was okay to question authority. Now that I’m removed from the education system by a number of years, I’m starting to see where it failed me. It’s not in the amount of books I read or the facts that I know, as I would have predicted on my graduation day, but in other, more subtle ways. I wish I had learned how to seek inspiration rather than waiting for it. I wish I had learned to see a problem as an opportunity for a breakthrough rather than a hurdle to overcome. I wish I had learned the fine art of critiquing others and giving valuable feedback. I wish I had learned persuasion, and how to present my work confidently and thoroughly. These are all things I will use for the rest of my life, wherever...

English Teacher

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I wish I – and MANY others – had learned parenting skills. Once I became a parent, it occurred to me that virtually nothing is taught about this incredibly crucial life skill. Almost anyone can become a parent, and while I learned to handle this tough job, students should learn what to expect and what traits constitute an effective parent. Please note: I did not say a perfect one, because there is most assuredly no such thing; however, in my 28 years of teaching I’ve seen some pretty weak parenting. So many people become parents and believe it will “come naturally,” but it certainly does not. This fact is, sadly, in full display in the news every day. Parenting requires patience, maturity, selflessness, financial planning, and commitment; unfortunately, many, many people with the biological capacity to have children lack the emotional and intellectual...

Calculus

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My son recently emailed me when I was working overseas saying his school maths homework was to prove the formula for the volume of a sphere. I scratched my head and asked a Japanese work colleague, an engineer. He used calculus to prove it in about three lines. I said ‘I didn’t know you could use calculus for that’ and he said ‘what else is it for?’. I could do calculus blindfolded when I left school, but I wished I learned what it can be used for. What else can it be used for?

What I Lament Not Learning

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Critical thinking skills. I think far too many children who graduate high school do so without learning how to think critically. This includes skills such as interpreting information from charts/graphs, qualifying arguments and formulating opinions, and generally applying the knowledge gained from the class room. Simply learning how to regurgitate information is usually enough to get a passing grade from most teachers, and we need to demand more from ourselves and our students. Application is key!!! How to properly value others’ opinions. Reading is a powerful tool for children because it allows students to experience situations through the eyes of people who think and act differently than they might. This promotes empathy and understanding, which should both be core values of our society. Children need to develop perspective, and understand the reasons behind other peoples’ thoughts...