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What was not taught in school that you realize, REALLY should have been? (Why?)

For me, things like Financial Literacy, Entrepreurism, Cooking and Sex Ed (and the Psychology of Relationships), were not taught. And I realize that I have had to spend quite a few years now bumbling through life with the rest of my friends, rather clueless. Yet, I'd always score high on calculus quizzes, in labelling body parts and I am an excellent speller. Oh! And I am really confident! : /

I feel I have useless superpowers in some areas and not enough power in others where I super need it. (Perhaps my ignorance is ripe for being picked on by predators in society...) Most of the things that I wish I learned, improved the quality of my life and mind once I did learn them.

What is your deal?

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    Sep 19 2012: Genevieve, For two years I taught a class in daily life sciences. We went through all of the things that come up in your life.

    I taught girls how to read dip sticks .. add oil, Fill up with gas. Change tires (with a cheater bar for leverage). Boys how to shop in grocery stores, cook, clean house, do laundry, sew, etc ... we all shared in each others jobs so that there was no boy job or girl job. We all learned how to do basic bookkeepping. Balance checkbooks. write and read resumes. fix a toliet, light a hot water heater, clean a stove, clean a house heater and restart it. basic hammer and nails and simple plumbing.

    I have had students come back and say that one class saved them big bucks over time and was applied almost everyday. The girls expecially say they are no longer getting ripped off at the gas stations and by mechanics.

    The class had plenty of kids signing up but as usual budgets made the decision to cut it.

    It was the most fun I have ever had as an instructor.

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      Sep 19 2012: That's great Bob. In fact, I won't own a car in life, partially for the reason that I realize that it is a giant, expensive piece of machinery whose inner workings I HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT :( I suspect that people are always trading up because their Car Literacy is bad and they just want a none-issue car. Beyond learning how to drive, I think what you taught should be included in Driver's Ed.

      On the flipside, I've always dated men who cooked really well (North Americans and Europeans)! Healthy, great sourcing of groceries etc.

      You're making me think now...
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        Sep 19 2012: Part of the problem is that we have always had girl jobs and guy jobs. Real men don't do that. Or that is not lady like. Once we get by that we are approaching a solution in education and life.

        Thanks for taking the time to reply.

        By the way your comment "Your making me think now ..." is the highest form of complement in a conversation. Thank you.

  • Sep 25 2012: Wellness was not taught in schools, so now we have an adult population that is mostly illiterate about self-responsibility around their health. This gives the pharmaceutical and medical industries an opportunity to have too much power. We have a 'sickness' industry, not a 'health' industry. They make huge profits from our ignorance. "Wellness as a second language" is a slogan I have coined to promote. Wellness should be treated only secondary to a primary language in schools. Children should graduate knowing more about their minds and their bodies than they do about their cars and their iPhones.
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    Sep 25 2012: Hi Genevieve

    I have many problems with the design of the schools and the idea that square rooms with 30 kids facing the supreme leader is the best way to learn and teach, but if there was one thing that I think about not learning and really wish I did, it would be growing food.

    I wish gardening and food production was a mandatory subject. This is especially relevant for city kids who probably think that growing food is for houses with gardens but there is a lot that can be done in an apartment, like grow tomatoes in old 2L milk cartons. These food growing lessons could be stand alone but could be easily incorporated into other subjects such as home economics (obviously) and science, as well as art (dyes) and history (ethnobotany).

    Japanese kindergartens and elementary school have a lot more gardening than I grew up with but it would be nice if it continued on through all of secondary school as well.

    Bring on the plants!
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      Sep 26 2012: Hi Jason :) Did you see Pam Warhurst's TED talk on how she and a group of ladies just one day decided to grow plants all over town--now it is a major tourist attraction as people go on snacking tours (like, cornstalks at the police station)! What the kids in that town must be learning!

      I feel blessed to have at least learned about cooking food at home, and all my friends and ex-boyfriends have been great cooks. In Canada, we do have a cursory experience with growing some bean plants in school, but as a serious life skill to cultivate and harvest regularly, that would rock.

      Maybe some of the concrete on the playground can turn into a community garden for recess? Greenhouse in the winters! Instead of playground supervisors, horticultural specialists!
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      Sep 26 2012: I'm not sure you've seen the video, but the relevance of this video is pretty uncanny to your post (Stephen Ritz: A teacher growing green in the South Bronx):
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        Sep 29 2012: Hi James thanks for the link. I was familiar with this talk, and you are right this is exactly what schools need. Unfortunately it is still just an idea worth spreading and not the norm...but the seeds are spreading!
    • Sep 26 2012: Have a look at It has now been instituted in hundreds of schools in Australia, and it has had government backing. Jamie Oliver has now started the same thing in England.
  • Sep 18 2012: Philosophy (in a broad sense) from a young age. Problem solving, criticising opinions and standards openly and honestly, thinking about the how and why of things, leading to better decision-making and a more open-minded nature.
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    Sep 18 2012: Waiting until children enter school may be too late to help them learn many of the valuable lessons they need to learn.
    We really need to do a better job of nurturing children from birth, up to the time they enter school, and day care or Headstart programs fail to do this.
    Children, including newborns, are not receiving the nurturing they need.
    It's too easy to blame schools as the problem, but we have increasingly given them the responsibility to do the things we as parents should be doing.
    Contributing to this problem is the break down of the extended family structure. We have none on the mentoring relationships later in life from grandparents and aunts and uncles.
    While the response is that families need two wage earners in order to make ends meet, my reply is simply, "Don't have children."
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      Sep 18 2012: I agree. In this climate of economic uncertainty, Margaret Sanger's old 1920 speeches about the considerations people should make before thinking of raising children are still relevant. It can't just be a romantic consideration. Children, their education and their impact on society are real, as are the economic and emotional requirements to bring them up in a worthy way.

      Educated Parenthood as a social movement?
  • Sep 23 2012: I will keep this short. I guarantee none of you believe in conspiracy but just look how inept governments are. They control the education and many other aspects in our lives. I have read much on the deliberate dumbing down of america with essentially brainwashing. If you can get more than half the population to depend on government it will grow larger and at some point with the technology will pretty much control your lives. There is plenty of evidence out there. Remember you aren't going to find proof. A court case depends on evidence if there was proof the case is over. They don't teach central theory or natural law instead you must memorize capitals of the world...... You would say why people do this? If you were rich and powerful, wouldn't you make sure you would want to stay rich and powerful? Yes I know this comment will be glossed over. All you "intellectuals" will sit there providing witty banter with each other as you think you are having a progressive conversation to help save the world or fulfill your ego of having such said conversation. The answer is right in front of your face. I could go on and on, but it is pointless, you must look into yourselves.
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      Sep 24 2012: you are right, i don't believe in conspiracy. i don't believe that politicians can or want to do anything of that magnitude. the reason why children are treated that way in school because parents want that. people want to be irresponsible, stupid and ignorant. and they want their children to be that way too.

      example. imagine schools start to teach proper nutrition. how awkward that would be if 12 years old children realized that their parents know nothing about the subject, and they all eat crap. it would lead to tension within the family. and as we know, family is sacred, and we don't want the school to "interfere" with the family, do we?
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      Sep 24 2012: hi rick,

      can I ask you what kind of things you recommend for conspiracy believers to do, once they realize that it is all hopeless and out of thier power to fix?
      • Sep 24 2012: To do? It really depends on the angle a conspirator is taking. Taking a step back and looking at the complex world we live in I have realized a few things. It really isn't hopeless. But it is projected hopeless because the perception is "most people are asleep, we need to wake them, they are sheep!" But trying to explain to a non believer is futile. The ironic part is some conspirators go overboard with their ideas to the public which in turn opens the conspirator niche to ad hominem attacks to completely discredit the whole group. For example, some believe the earth is hollow and aliens and rich people live down there and communicate. I keep an open mind but I just laugh at these ideas that have zero evidence. It is pure conjecture. I am not religious as an agnostic and I am not an Objectivist as Ayn Rand would call it. I have 100 pages left in Atlas Shrugged. I find it unsettling how true that book is. Lets put Jesus Christ's spiritual beliefs to the side for a moment. To reiterate I don't have a religion, but I find parts of the bible interesting. Jesus Christ and Ayn Rand who have opposite beliefs both warn of the same breakdowns in society that lead to complete ineptness in a functioning world. But what is functioning? The "society" decides what labels are good and bad. In a way all societies are doomed. Anarchy is portrayed as chaos but it is precisely the reverse. There are no simple transactions anymore, everything has a policy on top of a policy along with several types of taxes. The dollar (backed by gold) was to be an efficient bartering system for this great free market society. That society is slowly dissipating over generations. The conditioning one receives from birth is no different from brainwashing. I have learned more about central theory and natural law in one year than any education would provide. Beyond this diatribe, what one must do....
      • Sep 24 2012: 1 Is to truly think for themselves. Not just see something that makes them think about things or rationalize something. Anything can be rationalized off of a false premise. I don't talk about conspiracy cavalierly because no one will believe it. I came across a kid a few months that was in high school. We had that conspiracy connection but neither of us divulged our "crazy" beliefs. But he said that in school they are learning and believing that if you said that "90% of muslims are terrorists." That this is completely racist. That comment is not racist whatsoever. He was looking around his classroom and he sees people just soaking it in and agreeing. He couldn't believe how stupid people have become. Many people believe things are racist comments or acts all the time when they are not. On the conspiracy side this would be considered a deliberate tactic to to keep dissonance among the people. Look at that Trayvon Martin case in Florida, the media got caught red handed making it look like a white on black hate crime. If you beat something into someones brainless mind they will believe it at some point. e.g., "Change" "Their fair share", "It's the right thing to do", these Obama comments have no substance or reasoning whatsoever. Before you judge, I believe the Republicans are just as bad.
        2 Is to love your friends and family and support community. Truly keep a balanced mind. Any type of negative energy emanating from someone because they had a bad day, etc, truly rubs off to the people around them. I could go on and on about this also but I will try to wrap up this whole crude summation of everything. As you mentioned "hopelessness" many conspirators have been led down the wrong path (fear mongering tools). What better way to make someone feel catatonic, for lack of a better word, than fear. The endless capacity of our mind is the greatest tool we have, and many use it poorly or the wrong way. I am willing to continue if any1 is interested
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          Sep 24 2012: I think your first point of thinking for yourself is universally admired. Though, it's all super-subejctive, isn't it?

          I was more curious of how a said "conspiracy theorist" might practically go about employing the alternate set of knowlege that s/he has learned. For example, in order to change the world---if that is a goal etc.? Or, is it such a small group, thinking negative thoughts, that it ends up being defeatist?
      • Sep 25 2012: It is super subjective, but what that person believes should believe it whole-heartedly from their own passion not from fear from rejection of the "society". Today's society has gotten so bad that many people are in other's business. When it doesn't affect them in anyway. Talk about a lack of harmony. That discord is bad for everybody except the people at the top that control everything. It allows them to lay down more policies on top of policies to make it look like they are fixing the discord. This would lead to your "change the world" idea. Everyone is so dumbed down that they just let government do what they need to do. To physically actually change it, you don't even need someone to believe in conspiracy. You need men/women who are great leaders with great minds that support community as a whole. I don't see that anywhere. THere have been people like this though, JFK, MLK, Lennon, etc and they were all killed. Yes, I know I am a conspiracy nut, I have no evidence of things like this that the big man is holding everyone down but to me it is more than a coincidence that these people are killed. I don't believe in coincidences. So in general, unless someone is going to take that leadership role, they can still keep a balanced mind and spread love/energy. For how cheesy that sounds it keeps more harmony in the world than dissonance. The more dissonance there is, it will just get worse for the general population.

        Oh and if you are a bible believer, this can't be stopped. That is why I find Book of Daniel and Revelation interesting. Not saying I believe it but God will come down fullfill the rapture and cleanse this earth. I personally can't believe in a personal God like that. Genevieve have you read Atlas Shrugged? If you haven't I would love if you took the time to read it and hear your thoughts. I can tell you are way smarter than me, I would love to to hear your thoughts on the book.
        • Sep 26 2012: Great conversation! Yes, a quest for truth always leads to conspiracy as the lies unfold over time (as every generation confesses on their deathbeds). Identifying conspiracies is a part of critical thinking which society has been deliberately taught to shun (since the perpetrators of conspiracy are those in the power to teach).

          But what I was waiting to hear is the natural law of Conflict of Interest. Conflicts of interest are any situations where one's personal interest or benefit negatively influences one's actions of benefiting another person's interest or benefit. It is proper for conflicts of interest to be publicly stated up front beforehand, but through its powerful influence it is kept secret so as to prolong the selfish advantage. This all springs from an attitude of (cold) war where everyone is your personal enemy and that you would be foolish to sacrifice for another person's gain willingly - yet that is exactly what love is!

          In studying conflicts of interest and uncovering unknown conspiracies, I have devised the following litmus tests: 1)What do they say they want to do to benefit you? 2) What, if possible, could instead benefit them alone? 3) How easy is it for them to conceal this?

          By applying this during the Gulf oil spill, I surprisingly discovered a HUGE conflict of interest actually prolonging the oil spill: 1) On the news were US Military personel in helicopters and boats all over the Louisiana beaches and coastline saying they will do everything they can to help the local fishermen and townsfolk stating BP would pay the bill, while at the same time there were absolutely no one at the spill site trying to stop the gushing crude! 2) The US Government had a HUGE self interest in that the disaster was caused by one of the world's biggest (Brittish) oil companies, the US had the power to stop the spill or just simply let it get worse to increase cleanup costs. 3) I bet we'd never see the total bill. So said, so done. Someone's rich!!!
        • Sep 26 2012: Bruce Lipton, in "Spontaneous Evolution", compares corporations with dinosaurs - big bodies and small brains - and believes that they will go the same way because they cannot adapt to the changing environment. As we become more conscious, from the noosphere (internet and 5.6 billion cell phones), then the number of customers will drop and withhold the 'oxygen supply' from the large organisations who try to keep us dumbed down. It is already starting to happen.
  • Sep 20 2012: It was lack of cultivating Critical Thinking. The education was about covering/mastering the text books and teachers were programmed to convey the knowledge from the books to student's brain. I don't recall any interdiciplinary curriculum or holistic approach to raise a whole human being.
    • Sep 20 2012: You have hit the nail directly on the head. Critical Thinking should be a component of teaching from primary school on up. Currently it is only taught in a few universities and then I am told it takes most of a semester to get the basic ideas across.
      The Collegiate Learning Association did a study on US college students and found that over their time in school, the students did not measureably increase their abilities at critical thinking, or even learning in general.
      • Sep 27 2012: Can you explain what is meant by the term "critical thinking"?
        • Sep 27 2012: Stealing from wikipedia here.

          Critical thinking clarifies goals, examines assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates evidence, accomplishes actions, and assesses conclusions

          There is nothing negative about this, it is a critique of evidence to extract bias, assumptions and beliefs from a thought process.

          For example, we often think that for evey cause there is an effect and therefore for every effect there is a fundamental cause.
          That is a fallacy in that effects can have multiple causes, or be caused by a number of triggering causes that are inadequate in them selves but not when taken in combination.

          Our brains are wired for a particular frame of reference and moving outside that frame is difficult, non-intutive, and often impossible to visualise. We risk arriving at a poor answer if we allow our biases to accompnay us.

          Critical thinking also requires (sometimes) a close look at our assumptions.
          For example, I took an online course recently and a reference from Charles Duell was put forth. Charles Duell is widely quoted as saying "Whatever can be invented has already been invented" He was in charge of the US Patent office at the time (1902).
          A cursory scan of google shows this time and time again, however the google entries all reference each other and none actually referenced the original article which of course said exactly the opposite. The mis quote being reported locally in the newpaper at the time.
          Critical thinking watches for errors of omission and commision in our thought processes
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      Sep 20 2012: Neil DeGrasse Tyson calls this "Science Literacy", where like in Science, you only accept answers tentatively, always questioning and searching for exceptions, better models, counter-evidence etc.

      Socrates constantly qualified all ideas to refine or eventually debunk long-held beliefs. My favourite being that democracy can sometimes mean that the majority block of people get to push through possibly bad ideas. @#$% gets even worse when dealing with the mind-bending weighting weirdness of the electoral college.

      Though it is true that the world is largely built by low-bidders, automatons, and greedsters, it is also populated with some revolutionary geniuses and bipartisan people who care. We can at least do our part to make sure our locality, and every person we speak to, engage in meaningful Critical Thinking. The details of what topic exactly will engage this Critical Thinking (as we are discussing here: Film, Software development etc.), is a happy panning of gold as far as I'm concerned. Having worked in schools with achingly glacial administrative agility, I just did it myself. And I was never disgusted at a student or person for not digging deeper, I just tried to increase the incidences in their lives where they could experience the phenomenon.
  • Sep 18 2012: 1) A list of logical fallacies (with examples) and how to recognize them.

    2) How to pay bills, conduct bank business, and all those other little administrative things that are very important in life but never get explained to you before you suddenly run into them when you move out of your parent's house.
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      Sep 18 2012: Sorry to be needy, but can you list a couple of your favourite logical fallacies here? :)
      • Sep 19 2012: "Argumentum ad populum"

        X must be true because many people believe it to be true (fallacy because most people are not experts).

        "Slippery slope"

        X must always lead to disaster simply because it's possible it sets in motion a chain of events (fallacy because it doesn't have to happen and because by the same logic the opposite of X must also lead to disaster).

        "Circular reasoning"

        The Bible must be true because the Bible says it's true (I don't have to explain why this is a fallacy).

        "Appeal to fear"

        The thought of living in a godless universe scares me, therefore god must exist (also pretty obvious).

        "Post hoc ergo propter hoc"

        Y happened later than X, so X must have been the cause of X (fallacy because there doesn't have to be a causal relation).

        "Neglecting regression to the mean" (strongly related to the previous fallacy)

        It had not rained for months in London, then I did a rain dance and the next morning it rained, so my rain dance works (fallacy because rain is very common in London: after months of drought there is a very high probability of rain on the next day).

        "Reductio ad Hitlerum" (the internet fallacy)

        Hitler had highways constructed, so highways are bad, or the Soviet Union had universal healthcare so universal health care is bad and leads to communism (fallacy because not everything a bad person does has to be evil).
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    Oct 1 2012: I think your list of subjects (finance, entrepreneurship, phys ed and health) is spot on!

    I (half) jokingly share with my students that "health" class and driver's ed are the two most important classes they'll take in high school. What makes this humorous is that they are (usually) taught by the *least* inspired teachers in the school. There are exceptions, however - I've seen an *excellent* and inspired heath teacher (Joan Stear at Glen Este High School, for instance) work hard to innovate health instruction.

    What makes these courses very difficult to teach are their adolescent attitudes toward these subjects. The more immediate the topic (especially as it pertains to risk-taking) the more defensive teens are towards it. It's as though they have to defend their mental "limitations" to risk-aversion. Viewed this way, it's easy to understand a teen's eye-rolling on subjects like safe-sex and defensive driving.

    I find it shocking how little adolescent student know about finance. Part of this stems from their inability to see themselves retiring. For a group that thinks they'll "live forever", they have very little idea on *how* they'll finance that option.

    Financial literacy, however, is an area ripe for education because it is one of the few domains that:
    1) teen find inherently interesting
    2) adults can demonstrate a clear mastery
    This gives teachers a powerful - though small - window of opportunity to to have a relevant dialogue with their students.

    One exercise I use when starting a unit on finance is to take a student's picture and digitally "age" it:

    I then have them paste a copy on their folder and tell them:
    "This is *you* in 50 years."
    "This is the person who you're working for."
    "This is the person who you're saving for."

    Maybe because of this (more than in any class I've taught) students have told me "This class has changed the way I think about the world."
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      Oct 1 2012: Amazing! Is there a way we can learn more about what you teach in that class? I assume you teach high school?
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    Sep 24 2012: How about truth? Wouldn't the truth in history be a good place to start? History, recorded by the victors, is seldom the truth of conflict. Historical fact?, the facts are obscurred, twisted and distorted. Criminals are portrayed as heroes and some of the social heroes are portrayed as criminals. This is personal opinion, not intended to direspect anyone, listen to my question about the lack of, or deliberate destruction of.historical fact..however it is perceived is personal and irrelavant. Here is my reoccurring contemplative conundrum; Why is it, that History, which should be fairly simple to report accurately and truthfully is brought to us as something sacred from the past, with all the war monuments and statues of generals, list after list of heroic deeds, etc., etc. Only to find out later on that hardly any of it was exactly the truth....when it could have and should have been precisely so? On the other hand, we have numbers, and math, algebra, trig, and on and on ,which are a mystery, however, these are taught like a science, hardly ever revered for the meta-etheral mystery that they truly are, the numbers, never ending, equations mystically establishing truth in the universe...and they are definitely without end or beginning! Am I being understood? I suffer from a lack of polished articulation and I ask you to bear with me. History, recorded data was instead, nothing but fabrication and perverted truth, and numbers truly a sacred learning were taught like a boring science. Now I have an almost sacred respect for the numbers that were never edified in my past school experiences. Fundemental Errors!!!
    As innocent as this may come across, it is not ao much innocence or niavete, as it is just believing people will not deliberately mislead me, especially instructors of education. Years ago, In European History at Grinnell College, I questioned the lack of truth and was very confused by the answer from the Professor. He did not lie, and I love him for that.
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      Sep 24 2012: Hi Tim, I think teaching truth is definitely a part of Critical Thinking skills. But unfortunately, it goes against ideas of patriotism--which is huge in some countries.

      The inflamed tensions between China and Japan now over those islands between them have to do with both school systems not having done enough to educate current adults in charge to handle this with any sense of cool.

      In Japan, few adults discuss (or know about) the Nanking Massacre; and Japan's Imperialist crimes against all of its neighbours, the citizens of which, many are still alive and angry. With Japanese heads of states pledging to go and visit the islands just to plant a flag, or the unclear stance on the impropriety of whitewashing textbooks etc. by the education ministry just threatens to drag this goo-brained foreign policy out further.

      In China, the idea of victimhood is de rigueur for many, but of course the country itself has also suppressed countless territories and people much worse than in this case of the unihabited islands. Furthermore, why are mass demonstrations allowed to happen for causes like this, but not against the government itself? So many things to consider fishy.

      I'm sure there are people out there with their cars and businesses burnt down, with restaurants and hotels empty because of mis-education and the inability for either system to be smart going forward--they should be the ones that are inflamed.
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        Sep 26 2012: greetings Genevieve, Your knowledge belies your youth. I have read most of your posts, profile and your blogs. I usually try to know the people a little better that I spend time with, share conversation with, and in your case I have to include, am intrigued by. I am not trying to flatter you, I don't think you want that, and you definitely don't need it. More than just an education, your words demonstrate sincere thought. That makes me want to know someone better. It's obvious your contemplation's have cut a wide swath. Sharing with people like yourself not only inspires me to continue to think and learn, you have the ability to make my world seem a little smaller and a little more friendly. I wanted to take the time to thank you.
        This is a great question and many people answered sincerely, too. I completely support teaching our children to tend gardens and purify water that was mentioned. Thanks again, and know i'll be following more of your posts and opinions. It's been my pleasure. I hope the people and country of Japan are healing. I am in support of their efforts to restrict and resist nuclear power. It seems as though much of the world is taking notice of their courage to protest. Tim
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    Sep 24 2012: Funny that the only thing you need to teach a how to change perspectives based on information not emotion.

    Let me also note the danger in introducing complex ideas to children.

    They do not reason as you and I do. Therefore, the "intended" idea may not be what you actually input.
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    Sep 24 2012: definitely support the comments re critical thinking, to which I would add skills and techniques for maintaining resilience, tenacity and understanding your own unique values and self worth. In particular I think we dont allow space to understand the concept that there is no failure, only feedback. If you follow this principle it encourages learning by experimentation and curiosity which supports creative innovative thinking and children who are not limited by the fear of getting things wrong, but learn from what doesn't work to get better results next time.
  • Sep 22 2012: Most certainly the most important thing which needs to be taught but which is not is critical thinking. Critical thinking should not simply be taught, but should be the entire basis for every single course taught. Research has shown it to be radically effective not only at teaching, but at keeping people engaged and interested in learning. See the documentary "High School" by Wiseman for a stunning example of how amazingly successful this approach is. It is nearly abusive that we do not teach every single topic in a framework of critical thinking. He also made another documentary called "High School 2" which shows a 'regular' school where the students are broken, perform poorly, have all excitement and interest ground out of them and confident adolescents are crushed into soulless accountants.

    I do think that Sex Ed should be a year-long course which covers the whole of human sexuality, from its history and sociology through the biological aspects, on to the psychological and social aspects - which things are the way they are purely because society makes them that way and which are actually natural - and on through the wide variety of fetishes, the role of sex in different types of relationships, the fluidity of sexual orientation, and the nature of sex as a basic bodily function.
  • Sep 21 2012: I love the conversation, but think the question itself is somewhat biased, by assuming that schools job is to teach us, when I believe it should be there to prepare us. And I think the best way to prepare someone to live in this world is to get them excited about learning. With information and knowledge available to all on the internet, the answers are out there, the trick is to get children to start asking the questions.

    As Plutarch said, "The mind is not a vat to be filled, but a fire to be kindled."

    By lighting kids imaginations, we can get them to take responsibility for their futures. And although curiosity may not be something that can be taught, it can certainly be encouraged and nourished.

    By showing children the excitement of learning, what it can do for you, how much fun it is, etc, we can provide the children with the skills needed to take responsibility for their own learning.

    The trick is to get our teachers to be entertainers and mentors, rather than autocratic dictators ruling over their own nation of 30+ students.

    On the hand of specific knowledge though, I believe our schools should guide students towards skills that allow them to solve any problems (within reason) that may arise in their life. In the 21st century this includes programming, finances, relationships, as well as the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic and science.

    In the 22nd century that may involve piloting spaceships and using teleporters responsibly, but by nurturing curiosity and allowing the children to have some say in what they will learn I think we can trust that they will attempt to learn the skills most pertinent to their lives and their futures without too many government mandates on a general curricula.

    And I'll end with my favorite idea from Douglas Adams, that the trick is to ask the right questions, while I trust that the answers will logically follow and fall into place.
    • Sep 22 2012: Teaching people how to ask the right questions, and how to approach problems from different perspectives in order to find innovative solutions is the thing most CEOs say they wish schools would teach children. Luckily, we actually do have a great teacher for this. Videogames. Videogames are tremendously important educational tools. And I don't mean edutainment crapware. I mean the actual videogames that kids already like to play. The very act of playing a videogame of any kind is an exercise in asking the right questions in order to suss out the details and dynamics of an arbitrary system. In every one, you have to try many approaches, see what works and what doesn't, try new things to try to improve, etc. You get instant feedback, you can try things which seem stupid without humiliation or condescension, you learn how to min-max optimize often complex systems. No course in school teaches system dynamics, but almost every job in existence today involves exactly this. Either discovering how to navigate in an information system or else creating a new information system for other people to navigate.
  • Sep 21 2012: Education in the present world is mostly about job skills. Life is not mostly about a job, though it plays a big part. Life skills, child rearing, people skills, anger management, motivational skills etc., should be an essential part of education. That should help us be more complete human beings.
    • Sep 25 2012: I agree. If school system is to prepare children to live freely and responsibly, it needs to concentrate on what makes humans humans, and not just what makes humans functional biomachines to fit the economy.

      Teaching skills like listening to others and to oneself, caring, being curious, defining what's important, decision-making and searching for answers would be great. But these are more abstract skills.

      Among non-abstract ecology studies, physical and mental health, nutrition, social skills seem quite valuable.
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    Sep 21 2012: Too Much abstract, not enough practical application. School wasn't designed for us to create. It was designed for us to be good employees.
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    Sep 20 2012: Programming/Software developement
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      Sep 20 2012: They should really make this into a core subject.
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    Jeff L

    • +1
    Sep 18 2012: We need to start teaching kids how to learn. Not just what to learn, but how to learn it. Are they top down or bottom up learners? Do they understand different techniques that allow them to better retain information. Can they recognize different teaching style and what it takes for them to have success within those approaches. Do they know how to learn, or better yet how they learn. It took until my 2nd semester in college and a very smart tenured prof. to prompt myself and many other classmates to research our natural learning inclinations. It changed my educational experience forever. We need to start this process a lot earlier. College is really to late.
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        Jeff L

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        Sep 19 2012: You make some great points, but I believe knowing how to learn sets one up for a life of possibilities. It's take the frustration out of education and gives one the tools to keep from being pigeon holed in life. It give one a better sense of their strengths and weaknesses.

        More importantly it keeps people from living these compartmentalized lives where they think they can only be good at one thing. Physicians can't build their own decks or patios, Athlete can't be great scientist or write novels, poets can't be mathematicians. Knowing how to learn allows for fewer cross genre obstacles in learning. People are just more likely to be venturesome in an educational sense.
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    Sep 18 2012: There is no such thing as an adult. In ten years... these idiots are just going to be older. In the words of Joe Rogan "Suddenly, one day, the kid behind the register calls you sir... and all of a sudden you're just like "What? This is it? This is what we're all doing? This is adulthood? We're all just wandering around clueless staring up at shit?"
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    Sep 18 2012: there is a lot of talk about teaching creativity and entrepreneurialism and i don't believe they can be taught (in the way we think of when we think of school).

    those people that are good at those things probably switched off in school and learnt all about them in the school of hard knocks.

    for me, i wish they had taught that you only have to go to school cos they make you.

    experience beats education every time. hands down.
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      Sep 18 2012: I think experiential learning; like dry runs for life in game form, as a schooling model would be awesome!
  • Sep 18 2012: The awareness of the shortcomings of school education curriculum system.
    What schools teach us is all designed according to their plan.
    They refuse to admit the way they teach students could be wrong.
    (Besides they're not fond of students with defiant attitude to their education system for sure.)
    • Sep 18 2012: Agreed. Each year of classes should start with a simple introduction that includes pointing out the limitations of the school system, the limited curriculum, and the simple fact that our education system has no scientific basis. I am all for local school boards having a good deal of control over local schools. This is has both positive and negative aspects. We should at least inform the children that we are aware that this system is far from perfect. Tell them that when they graduate, they will be prepared for very little that life can throw at them.
      • Sep 19 2012: "We should at least inform the children that we are aware that this system is far from perfect. Tell them that when they graduate, they will be prepared for very little that life can throw at them. "
        That is so true. Seems like schools have been requiring students to be obedient to authorized people or system from the very beginning. Schools don't teach us what the reality is. And when we find out what is like to survive in this world, we think we've been missing somthing important so far, but can't figure it out until we realize it was all because of our passive attitude--we've been so dependent on schools education system.

        I especially hate the things schools try to indoctrinate to children. Schools should be the very place where open debate and endless inquiries are encouraged.
  • Sep 18 2012: Negotiation skills.
  • Oct 1 2012: General principals within Cognitve Behavior Therapy as applied to aid recovery from trama:

    Also would be interested in teaching processes that identify and utilise the various methods of engaging with people:

    And to teach about (and make active use of - during teamworking) the various personality archetypes and how they clash and co-operate:

    Would also have been good to understand how to practice many other life lessons in retrospective, but hey that's life!
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    Oct 1 2012: Here is the answer - Super Fast track Education - specifically designed to fill in the gaps left by poor education systems (and I include in this nearly all westernised education even including higher/degree level - I have 3 kids been through it!)

    It just needs funding - the course is derived from 'life experience' and will work - just 18 days to re-invent any normal 17 to 22 year old.

    For the Student

    We take you on a journey of discovery. A journey that starts with yourself and ends with yourself gaining a new vision of the real world. Your virtual journey is hard and long and it takes you to many places, visiting many different organisations across the world, including large and small business, desert islands and peoples of different cultures. The going is tough but you persevere and you discover what makes these people and organisations work. You seek and discover the fundamental issues behind mans eternal adventure. You travel through Baltimore and reach out to the cosmos, after all, you are just a child of the universe and you are discovering new ways of thinking for yourself. As your journey nears its end, your last quest is especially long and hard, but eventually, although tired, you are elated, you have reached the summit of your climb. You realise that from this journey’s end your horizons have changed, and from this new vantage point you can see a great distance all around. You look again at the world and with new eyes and you see the world as it really is. You see clearly the paths to new horizons and new lands awaiting your discovery. Your strength is renewed, you are ready to take your first step along your own life-long journey. ... see the website for exactly how it works.

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    Oct 1 2012: One of the first responsibilty of a committed learner is to make sure that he or she does not depend solely on the school curriculum and teachers for education.
    Education is meant to bring the vastness of knowledge to our awareness. So that we start from what we've been taught in the schools and then proceed to what we need to know to achieve our personal goals and visions.

    No matter how good the instructions are in schools, real life will always be a different ball game; and you really learn about the approach that works for you (in your career) in real-life situations.
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    Oct 1 2012: Teamwork.
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    Oct 1 2012: wow, not a common thing for a teacher to react like that, that kid is probably a doodler, needing to do something else to concentrate. I've doodled all my school years. And reminds me of Capra's great scene in Mr Deeds goes to town

    PS: Of course I wear the t-shirt! :-)
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      Oct 1 2012: The kid was / is brilliant and doodling totally helped him. Others tried the same afterward, and I gave them all a chance, but not many could prove that they had multi-foci with doodling. Anyway, I tried to keep it under 10 minutes at a time, in the first place, my yapping.
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    Oct 1 2012: Hi Geneviève,
    + 1 for Sex Ed. I've made myself a t-shirt saying "I went 18 years to school and never learned anything about sex". It is an important element in one's life, why do we have to learn it by ourselves, why is such a taboo? The first time I had sex I was clueless.
    - Collaborative achievement (vs Individual performance). Unless a job doesn't involve contact with other people (but which one doesn't?), collaboration is crucial. Schools put the A students on a pedestal. That is in my book individual performance rewarded. Big mistake as once we start our professional life, success mainly depends on how you work well with others.
    - Courage. Meaning to dare. Meaning be prepared for failure, which can lead to creativity. Sir Ken Robinson's speech on creativity is a big wake up call. Courage also means that children would learn to trust themselves better, even if they are not A students, which means there is a bigger chance they will find what they love and strive to do it. How many people are unhappy in their jobs because it is not a calling but only a way to put bread on the table? I know this very well because I've been in this situation.

    Good question :-)
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      Oct 1 2012: Do you wear this shirt out? Lol!

      I totally agree about the courage part. The whole staying in the box, colouring within the lines is a strange rule that comes about in teacher-directed classrooms, where not doing what the teacher says becomes an infraction. I think this is what discourages creative, lateral thinking.

      Lots of times, listening to some instructions is just practical. But teachers shouldn't feel so insecure about their students' respect for them. Once, a student was sketching a bridge on his giant art pad, while I was explaining something completely unrelated and I took and held the pad away from him and asked him to tell me two things I said in the last 5 minutes. He did, with thoughtful, paraphrasing. I immediately returned the pad to him and said, "OK, continue, then!" That taught me :)
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    Oct 1 2012: Reading back on the conversation's question, I see that I've basically complained that it's "too late" to have picked this stuff up in adulthood. Just to clarify, I am totally grateful to have learned anything at all, of course. And I suppose there is no guarantee that had there been a policy to teach The Most Important Things, that would've saved me (or us? or anyone?) from still having to cobble out our own path ourselves anyway. The school of Hard Knocks doesn't allow for dropouts...

    In all cases, TED and these conversations have helped a load in applying the smarts that were(n't) there to begin with! :)

    Once for a journal piece, I dug into why the most successful school models around the world were the way they were. These were measured by local, national and international standards. Admin from all over the world studied these models; the Gates Foundation consulted with them etc. Despite huge differences in culture, $ per pupil spent, private or public, which courses were taught, level of snazzy technology, amount of extra-curricular offered etc. the bottom line for the most successful schools and students was that they had seriously caring, qualified, talented, aware and inexhaustible activist teachers; teachers trained and impassioned enough to understand how to steer and tweak a curriculum to challenge and prepare students for life. The top system, for example, according to PISA, is Finland, where every teacher has a Master's degree, undergoes 5 years of training (in Canada it's 1); few classrooms use technology beyond blackboards; few schools have prom or extra curricular things; they don't have standardized tests. In their economy, upward mobility is still a reality for every upcoming generation.

    Also: alcoholism and suicide among teachers are the highest there. Like the end of a love story...:/
  • Sep 26 2012: How to view things from another persons perspective - live as a member of a community, not just an individual.
    We all have a story that has made us who we are, sometimes when we relate to others with this in mind we can be more gracious and less easily offended. I think the world would be a different place if we were all taught (and actually grasped) that although we are unique and valuable beyond measure so is everyone else.

    It's a good question and the responses are really thought provoking - thanks.
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    Sep 25 2012: character building, anything else is easy to grasp or learn if you have that firm foundation of who you are.
  • Sep 25 2012: After reading all these insightful replies here I ended up thinking that, in the end, people learn mostly from people. So, I wish I had greater teachers at school, who could listen, respect, guide (vs rule), change perspectives, who could express themselves more freely and creatively.

    Spirituality is one subject I would like to be made official.
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    Sep 24 2012: I don't think we yet understand the implications of introducing these ideas to children.

    You can always learn anything you don't already know...that's the beauty of being human.
  • Sep 21 2012: Social skills. How to deal with bad influence etc. self confidence. Schools should be more supportive of motivated students, instead of complaining on people not doing their work. And it should focus more individually on people. And not be to easy when students make bad decisions. that might damage their own studies.
  • Sep 21 2012: Schools are starting to make the move to emphasizing the problem-solving, critical-thinking, and logic skills required in the "real world." States are starting to adopt a set of standards, Common Core Standards, that emphasize these skills. Public education is just beginning to move away from "teaching to the test" and testing fact recall and towards assessments that require higher-order thinking skills and require students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding to written justification of their position/response. No more multiple choice!
  • Sep 21 2012: Financial literacy (as in, understanding different types of investments), and a “big picture” understanding of statistics (as opposed to simply calculating variances and standard deviations, which are just numbers). Both subjects are important to everyday decisions, and if you can’t figure out how they are, then that is a clear sign that you simply don’t understand either of them. Incidentally, I actually learned the most about these two subjects on my own after I got my graduate degree, by self learning from books at the library, and by buying some video courses from “The Great Courses” website. Even though I studied statistics in high school and college, I think that what I learned in school only confused me more than it helped me. School usually teaches you only how to calculate numbers, not how to interpret or apply your results.
  • Sep 21 2012: Financial literacy (as in, understanding different types of investments), and a “big picture” understanding of statistics (as opposed to simply calculating variances and standard deviations, which are just numbers). Both subjects are important to everyday decisions, and if you can’t figure out how they are, then that is a clear sign that you simply don’t understand either of them. Incidentally, I actually learned the most about these two subjects on my own after I got my graduate degree, by self learning from books at the library, and by buying some video courses from “The Great Courses” website. Even though I studied statistics in high school and college, I think that what I learned in school only confused me more than it helped me. School usually teaches you only how to calculate numbers, not how to interpret or apply your results.
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    Sep 20 2012: [Update] I think this has been an enormously productive conversation to have: what thing is it that begs to be imparted at school to make a brain and a person maximize this (social, economic, spiritual) experience?

    All of us here have named things that we have, as adults, since discovered to have worked for us, from Poker to Changing Oil to Programming to Nutrition to Philosophy and Ethics. And the baseline of all that seems to be Critical Thinking / Scientific Inquiry / Logic / Practicality.

    I think the details of "what subject?" will be hashed out differently across different localities, communities and families. But, overall, I think we all want the experience of proactive problem-solving that the crucible of Education needs to make happen consciously.

    However, learn as we might from great experiences, learning is often not transferred, for some reason. Will learning the mechanics of a car (an awfully useful set of skills, maybe even taught deeply and meaningfully) enable a person to run an organization well? Will a thorough understanding of racism cause activism for gay or aboriginal rights? Will flawless computer programming help in relationships?

    I'd like to throw in that whatever it is that is taught, should be taught through the lens of messy, integrative problem solving and revolutionary application--to see everything with new eyes thereafter. And we just need to make time to reflect, and philosophize on how to make the about that?
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      Sep 21 2012: Hmm, with so much focus on technical things like "Critical Thinking / Scientific Inquiry / Logic / Practicality" I think there needs to also be a focus on Communication, Collaboration, Community, and Social Interactions.
  • Sep 19 2012: Psychology and foward thinking . Good question for getting data be well.
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      Sep 20 2012: I secretly hope there are activist teachers / parents / school administrators lurking around here taking notes :)
      • Sep 20 2012: My solution we need a execution plan to change and evolve all sectors what do I meanN parent teacher government and business all of the above are the same issue and problem also the best way to make a partnership for a real solution? Fact business and government are the money issue and teacher parent are the quality issue my opinion so top priority is execution development plan make this you first step .
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          Sep 20 2012: I think another big issue to include is curriculum and overall structure of the system itself like testing methods or grading criteria, textbooks, etc.

          Imo, there also needs to be a mentality that courses should be fun, productive, practical and fun. They should not be chores.
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    Sep 19 2012: poker and software development
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      Sep 19 2012: still using that stolen picture? what kind of personality does it indicate?
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      Sep 20 2012: To Anja:

      That you're writing in English and that you've cited others with whom you agree shows that you have subscribed to a particular "nest"/school, yourself. Should we interpret your citation above as your being too lazy or unable to think of original ideas yourself, that you must cut and paste the words of others? Is THAT the "dependency disorder" you speak of? You stand on the shoulders of giants before you, as we all do. I don't think that you are so naturally tall.

      Can you say that you've arrived at all that you are completely independently of anyone and anything else? As children, not abandoned in the wilderness, we are all necessarily part of some system of schooling: a super-religious home, the streets, an under-funded school, a privileged village of enormous cultural capital etc.

      As creatures with wrinklier brains than most, we cannot escape needing an enormously lengthy period of learning or schooling. We all depend on each other to be as smart and enlightened as possible, or else nothing gets done right in our communities, nations etc.

      So, I hope you're not saying that mass Education is bourgeois clap trap. It's pretty !@#$% necessary, actually, and we might as well do it right.
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          Sep 20 2012: omg, what a bunch of undiscerning observations.

          If there is an "us" in enemy, it means that not only are we the problem, we are also the solution. omg, paradox? deal with it.
        • Sep 20 2012: Although I have no children and I am retired so I no longer have to deal with the pathetic offerings graduating from the current system, however, when I was hiring my opinion was that virtually nothing in the current system was benefitting me.
          Graduates from reputable Universities could not write, think, manage a complex set of tasks, or learn on their own. In the computer consulting industry where the half-life of knowledge is under 2 years, this is a tragedy.
          What I cannot see is the future organization of society that education should (or must) support.
          What will post-consumerism earth look like? and can we change our education system fast enough when it becomes apparent.
          Locally we are still arguing if a zero should be given to a student who does not turn in an assignment.
          One group says that in the real world he/she would be fired so a zero is a suitable school substitute for that.
          The other group says that we shouldn't make the student feel bad for not doing the work and just ignore it with a mark of incomplete.
          I want to shoot the second group.
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    Sep 19 2012: With you on the Financial literacy which is so different from accounting and economics.

    Also suggest Ethics (secular) and logic.
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    Sep 19 2012: School taught us many things but we still feel that some things are remaining. But it happens with a situation. Now we can feel that school didn't taught us this and that but we cannot think about the situation of that time. School means teaching at same level. School bring all students at same level and after that everyone can decide about their own future. But if today i am eager to become singer then i may think that why there was not any practical of singing in school.
    So I believe that school taught us everything necessary. School means to learn which is must.
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    Sep 19 2012: Genevieve,

    After making my original post about teaching decision making skills...something everybody needs to learn how to do...I sat back and watched. Then I went back and read your topic post. And a couple other ideas came to mind.

    1. K-12 schooling is not designed to prepare anyone for a "life career", as in becoming fully qualified to hold any level of "job" from an income-producing standpoint. K-12 is designed to provide foundations to build on in persuing life's activities AFTER you graduate K-12. Even someone who may decide to "flip burgers" is going to have to learn how to do it in the occupation-environment they will be flipping them AFTER they graduate.

    2. One thing I find interesting is that many of the conversations that take place here on TED end up with some people complainng about the "greed" that other people have. But look at what our traditional school grading systems actually do...they promote the idea of being greedy. We "grade" students with "symbols"...A, B, C, D, E, F. If you are a "C" student, you are only "average". Want to get a FREE all-expense paid college education (scholarship)? You need to an "A". So what's the motivation for getting that "A" in the first place? Greed? Sure looks like it to me...our own grading system "teaches" that being greedy is what you need to be to "get ahead". I for one would like to see a simple "Pass/Fail" grading system. Nobody is just "average", and nobody else is "superior". You could still quantify college selections based on other criteria. A test is a test, regardless if it is taken to establish a "grade score" during K-12, or during the last year of 12 to "rack and stack" college applicants. SAT's are used today for college selection, even though there is debate about how fair they may be.

    Don't feel bad about "bumbling around" for a few years after your schooling. I'm 58-years old, still learning, and still "bumble" sometimes. ;-)
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      Sep 19 2012: Greed isn't a totally bad thing imo, but just like all things, when there's too much of one thing, there will be negative repercussions.

      But you're right, that grades can promote more greed than there needs to be.

      But there's a poem, whose message should not be forgotten:

      "Our Deepest Fear

      Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,
      but that we are powerful beyond measure.

      It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
      We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
      gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

      Actually, who are you not to be?
      You are a child of God.

      Your playing small does not serve the world.
      There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
      so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

      We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
      It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

      And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
      other people permission to do the same.

      As we are liberated from our fear,
      our presence automatically liberates others."
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    Sep 19 2012: Games/Game studies, Philosophy, Healthy Lifestyle, Resource Management, Social Interactions, Film, Contemporary Works, Current Events, Politics (well we did have Government class...), COMPUTER SCIENCE/PROGRAMMING/WEB DESIGN, Study of the Internet Phenomena, etc.

    Man, I created a whole list of all the things Public Schools should do right over the summer.
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      Sep 19 2012: Why these things? Do they enrich your life? Are they what you've found to be monetizable? Like how would a more serious education in Film have helped you?
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        Sep 19 2012: My reasons are simple: they are either fun, interesting, and/or applicable to the real world.

        So in their own special ways, they answer yes, they enrich my life, they are monetizable, and they would have helped me.

        Film can be studied in many ways.

        - the technicalities/technology
        - the effects and techniques achieved when doing something with the film in a certain way
        - the study of a popular use of film techniques in relation to technological advancements
        - film as a study of culture and how it is a movie can be a reflection of culture at the time (ex. why is the Avengers so popular?
        - film as a study of social norms, stereotypes, and relationships
        - film as an art form
        - film as a business
        - film in copyright law
        - film as character studies and their psychologies
        - film as a user psychological study
        - film and music
        - film vs reality vs television vs radio vs etc.
        - film genres and why some people have their preferences
        - mainstream films vs non-mainstream films and how they change over time
        - film as a unique storytelling medium and effective communication
        - etc.

        As for how film has helped me, to me, it's fun, interesting, and it helped me realize another dimension to society or to individual people.
    • Sep 19 2012: "Games/Game studies, Philosophy, Healthy Lifestyle, Resource Management, Social Interactions, Film, Contemporary Works, Current Events, Politics (well we did have Government class...), COMPUTER SCIENCE/PROGRAMMING/WEB DESIGN, Study of the Internet Phenomena, etc."

      You can't possibly expect public schools to use their scarce resources and teaching hours to teach "game studies" and "film" when kids could be learning math instead. This is supposed to be a list of things that should be taught, not a list of what you would have enjoyed to do at school when you were a kid.
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        Sep 19 2012: The question was "What was not taught in school that you realize, REALLY should have been? (Why?)" not "what was not taught in school that you realize, REALLY should have been under current limitations of public schools?"

        To me, asking what I think should have happened in school is equivalent to what I would have wanted public schools to do more of that I would have enjoyed more of. And what I think schools should do more of in general is make all subjects fun, interesting, and applicable to real world, or else I don't see much worth in them if they are not.
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    Sep 18 2012: Self esteem.
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      Sep 18 2012: You have to be careful with self-esteem. Here over the last twenty years there has been an emphasis on self-esteem and confidence building in K-6. The idea being to help kids with low self-esteem to resist bullying and report abuse. The problem is the program is applied across the board, so the middle majority that are quite normal grow up with the expectation that they can have any job they want and no-one can make them do anything they don't want to do. It's a particular problem with 18-25 yearold boys who now all seem to expect everyone to do what they want and fail to understand the concept of boss-employee. In part due to this the unemployment rate in this age group is four times the overall rate
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        Sep 18 2012: @ Peter Lindsay; self esteem and ego are two separate things. One relates to self love and security, the other a kind of dominance delusion. I was not speaking about the latter. We seem to invest a great deal in the latter through a rise in a sense of personal entitlement to cover up an intrinsic lack of real security. Its counterproductive to the first objective and the root of all our problems.
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          Sep 19 2012: I fully agree. My example was just to show that true self-esteem is often not the result of well meaning programs. True self -esteem makes you more willing to let others lead as you don't feel the need to "prove" yourself. Its one area where the teacher needs to be sure they know what they're teaching.
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        Sep 19 2012: Hi Peter,

        I think unemployment among the young has more correlation to the increase in liberal arts university admissions over the years. The reason that Bachelor degrees have little to no value in the working world is that there is little to no coordination between that and the universities offering degrees in non-practical disciplines.

        One case in Toronto is that a popular publishing degree programme that had a waiting list and great reviews randomly decided to double in admissions over one year. In the first year, the cohorts all got job placements. In the second year, exactly half were unemployed--the publishing companies hadn't been involved at all in determining the end need for such graduates.

        As well, technical or practical skills don't have to come at the cost of philosophy, or vice versa. But the former does require hands on experience and training, while the other can be read about and debated all over society, should we truly value it more.
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        Sep 19 2012: "It's a particular problem with 18-25 yearold boys who now all seem to expect everyone to do what they want and fail to understand the concept of boss-employee."

        Could this also be another reason as to why there are so many startup companies now?
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        Jeff L

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        Sep 19 2012: I agree, the everybody gets a metal/ribbon years need to move on.
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    Sep 18 2012: strangely, i can't think of anything. whatever i miss from my education, they could not possibly give me back then. i mean, proper economics is not even believed today, science of nutrition is still changing every year, being critical is not exactly praised by the mainstream, and such things. it is still not the time for these areas to enter the classroom.

    what i pity is the amount of time spent on useless things. i still can construct a triangle from a side, an angle on it, and the opposing angle. i wonder if i should put that on my CV.
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      Sep 18 2012: What about self esteem? All this 'doing', and trying to improve oneself, does it create security and happiness or fear and anxiety, do you think? If all people in the world felt true inner self worth, how much of our global disunity and conflict would simply disappear? Most of it I say.
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        Sep 19 2012: i don't know what about self esteem. i'm kind of sure constructing triangles does not help it. and for those that were not very good at it, it was a self esteem destroying experience.
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          Sep 19 2012: Well I guess it one can be a substitute for the other for a time?
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        Sep 19 2012: depends on what do you mean by self esteem. i had to look up to be clear on that. it seems that self esteem means the emotional variant of self knowledge. it can be positive or negative, and it also can be baseless or true. who needs a positive self esteem that lacks basis? sure it feels good, so as heroin. but for many, current school systems gives a negative self esteem that lacks basis. now that is bad, beyond doubt. maybe it is a lesser problem in the US, as there, large part of the curriculum is to boost positive self esteem (without basis of course).

        we spend way too much time on building a positive image of ourselves, as opposed to build a true knowledge of what we are really capable of.
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          Sep 19 2012: I think you too might be confusing ego with self esteem. Self knowledge, or the emotional varient thereof, means a deep concious and more importantly, unconcious, security with oneself and the world.

          If you do not possess this, your feeling is a constant feeling of want, a personal sense of needing to be better or worse still, an innate sense of failure. For those of us who have experienced this lack of self knowledge, which is nearly everyone, its nearly impossible to imagine what it is like to possess such inner security. Therefore we do not, most of the time, even bother to seek it.

          It can be strengthened or recovered when we are children. But telling kids they can be then next president of the usa is not the same thing as building self knowledge. Its just another silly ego game based on original insecurity.
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          Sep 19 2012: ...actually, it can be recovered when we are adults too, but this is more difficult. therefore I say, should be the first thing we do in preschool and at early childhood. Studies show, when inner security is addressed, kids learn to build triangles much quicker and other cool stuff too.
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        Sep 20 2012: i don't see how self knowledge would lead to security with oneself. what if i know that i'm lazy, and i hate that. how would that grant me a feeling security?
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          Sep 20 2012: Your logical mind cant help you with this one Krisztian, it's whats going on for people underneath that drives them. Emotion drives them. What makes the emotion? This is the only question really worth answering.
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      Sep 19 2012: Hey man, solving right triangles and finding the value of the missing length are nothing to laugh at, I use that when I eat my Reese's puffs for breakfast, go on facebook, code java, and doodle in class. It's like breathing, IT'S A NECESSITY OF LIFE.
    • Sep 19 2012: "i mean, proper economics is not even believed today"

      And by "proper" economics you mean Austrian "let them eat cake and drink whatever liquids we trickle down on them" laissez-faire economics, way to present your own personal preference for what is essentially not even a science (economics just isn't real science) as if it were an immutable fact, I'm sure education needs a lot more of that...
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        Sep 19 2012: proper is proper. it means does not contain logical fallacies, falsehoods and such. metaphors don't help. relativism also doesn't. understanding helps.
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          Sep 20 2012: Krisztian, I fully agree with you regarding relativism being useless and the lack of encouragement for critical thinking in schools nowadays

          Falsehoods don't help, but metaphors, well, if you have ever taught a classes to young kids, you will remember that pieces of knowledge embedded in stories (whether true or fictional) are remembered best

          Let me now pick on "proper" as you define it here, maybe you are right the austrian school of economics goes to great lenghts to be "proper" and attempt to close all open loops within its framework. Logically consistent, well, maybe yes.

          But proper also means appropriate or adequate. And economics as taught in the austrian school of economics is not proper in that sense. I am yet to see a country that implements "pure" laissez faire capitalism. Only then we'll be able to see if which of the the claims of the austrian school are confirmed or not

        • Sep 20 2012: @Andres Aullet: I'm sure Krisztián is quite capable of addressing your concern, but here are my thoughts, anyway.

          If we were to looking at the logic of your argument, one could also say 'I am yet to see a country that implements "pure" corruption-free governance. Only then we'll be able to see if which of the the claims of the honest principles are confirmed or not'.

          The whole idea of "no one has tried it yet, so it won't work" gets you very limited mileage. What Austrian economics has going for it are:
          1. Sound reasoning behind principles
          2. Accurate predictions of what will go wrong with each aspect of the erosion of liberty

          I, myself, though largely Austrian in my outlook, am not convinced by ALL aspects of the Austrian canon. However, I am convinced by the bulk of it. The reason I mention that: I am not averse to discussion; I only stand to gain by discussing issues with knowledgeable people. However, I find that when people are dismissive of such a well-reasoned structure, they are mostly people who are unwilling to explore and to learn.
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        Sep 19 2012: what about this statement: corporate tax is paid by either employees, or owners, or customers, or some combination of these.

        would you say it is unscientific, up to interpretation, dubious, questionable or what?
      • Sep 19 2012: 'Austrian "let them eat cake and drink whatever liquids we trickle down on them" laissez-faire economics'?

        No wonder you forgot to add "straw man" to the list of logical fallacies ;-).
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      Sep 18 2012: You're so right, Carolyn. The Null Curriculum (what's not taught), the Intended Curriculum and the Unintended Curriculum are all different things that go down at any given moment at school. When kids grow up and realize that life is so different than what was stressed as important in school, sometimes it takes a whole life time to undo. As Theodore mentioned earlier, nurturing children from a young age, the whole village starting with parents, with good stuff matters.
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    Sep 18 2012: Combined the messages of two recent TED Talks, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore telling us that adolescent brains are not like adult brains. I'm noticing that many of the suggestions here are being presented by adult brains. So we would do well to recall the lesson of Scott Fraser's talk, that we distort memories of the past, as in, when we were in school.

    Allow me to pose a slightly different question, even in light of both Fraser's and Blakemore's talks:

    What stopped you from learning the valuable lesson in life you needed to learn sooner?

    Or maybe this question: How are you helping others learn these lessons?
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      Sep 18 2012: I think life experience, when faced with the psychological upheavals, helps seal the lesson tight. They say that an emotional experience helps burn a moment in your mind.

      When things get real, that's when it matters. But, that's not to say that can't happen in school. Childhood and adolescence are rife with emotions, educators, as Ms. Blakemore said, need to ride that crest of physiological development to get through to kids.

      As a teacher, I try to make everything aesthetic or interesting, by building narratives, setting the scene for where a point will go down in life.
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    Sep 18 2012: 1. Not to memorize, but thinking by myself, and to be positively critical.
    2. How to separate and choose the interesting from the useless.
    3. How to listen.
    4. How to be silent.
    5. How to put myselfo into the others' skin
    6. How to be compassionate.
    7. How to feel fine under bad conditions.
    8. How to think wisely.
    9. How to be patient.
    10. How to think well.
    Now, may be it's a little bit late for me. I try to do my best and to feel so, but how much life lost ! And what a hard way it was!
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      Sep 18 2012: Another person in this conversation suggested Philosophy, which I'm only starting to read now. That would have saved me from years of re-inventing the wheel of self-help. #7, especially--wish I had just read Seneca and Nietzsche at 20, max.
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        Sep 19 2012: I agree, Genevieve. Philosophy is always a good topic for live and to love. Some theories may be now surpassed, but the 'know-how' thinking and the opportunity for looking deeper inside ourselves is, always, interesant and useful.
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    Gail .

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    Sep 18 2012: One thing I would like to see - as a STARTER - is teaching the joy of learning. Find that joy, and everything else just comes to you. Then there is nothing that you cannot do.
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    Sep 18 2012: Traditional Game Theory (at least at the basic level as presented in this link):

    And Evolutionary Game Theory:

    Life is about making decisions. Decisions are about not only how they affect you yourself, but how your decisions will affect others too. And how other people's decisions may force you to make decisions that you wouldn't normally make, regardless of how rational or "right" you may think your preferred decision may be.

    Teach it in the K-12 education environment. Even at the basic levels it will help students understand they aren't entering a "me, Me, ME!!!" world. No amount of education is worth a darn if a person can't make effective decisions using the education.
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    Sep 18 2012: hot..diving
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    Sep 18 2012: Economics and Logic.
  • Sep 18 2012: For me it would be classes on practical maths, and shop type classes I wish I took instead of going through all the 'higher' classes
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      Sep 18 2012: Being handy and a DIY'er helps stave off the dependence on buying stuff to plug the holes in our lives. I'm no good with cabinets, but I try to re-think and re-fashion what I wear instead of knee-jerking it to the mall. I used to drop $300-500 on clothes a month. Now it's zero!!
      • Sep 19 2012: excellent job then! I tend not to spend money on clothes by just wearing what I buy until it wears out and then going and buying another set of workable clothes (not designer or fashionable clothes that aren't meant to be worked in)