A Cry For Better Guidance

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The day of graduation is one of the biggest days of a student’s life. We are finally leaving the same daily school routine. We will leave and find new adventures in a new atmosphere—whether it’s going to college or jumping right into the real world and joining the workforce. And while walking out of Round Lake High School with diplomas seems exciting, at one time or another, we all feel a little fearful, wondering if we are ready. After all, all we know is how to solve for X or Y and that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. But are we really prepared for the real world?

Many may argue that schools teach many skills to use after high school, which is true, but that does not make students prepared to tackle life head on after graduation. Students learn the basic needs academically. We will know how to write an argumentative paper  and some of us may have even discovered that Christopher Columbus was not the great guy we thought he was in elementary school. However, schools do not focus on how to file taxes, keep a good credit score, or how to maintain a good budget.

The thing that is missing throughout the school is being taught the basic living skills and needs. Personally, I’ve always thought it would be good if I could take a life skills class for one semester, just like I did in middle school. That class taught students how to balance a bank account, keep a budget, and pay rent. Now there is no life skills class offered in middle school and students do not get any exposure to these things until their senior year of high school. And it’s not even taught by a teacher! It’s on a computer screen with a video. And don’t even get me started on the fact that it only happens once a week. That’s just not enough. In my experience, I will finish a unit and sometimes I can’t even recall what I just learned about. The program goes over really important topics like how to handle money and how to handle themselves financially, but it just does not seem to have the potential to actually teach anything unless the student really pays attention. Most think it’s just an easy A.

When it comes to skills like time management or even group work, students do not take the time to practice these skills and brush them to the side instead. “I’m not sure that many of our students are prepared for the responsibilities that will be expected of them outside of the high school,” RLHS English teacher Kimberly Botts said. “Without practice at the time management it takes to adhere to deadlines, I’m afraid that in college or in their careers, some will continue procrastinating to a point where they are unable to succeed at the tasks they are asked to complete.”

Gaining small skills including time management or how to be independent may be harder for some than others without fully addressing the problem up front with the students. But some students feel like they’re being prepared. “In my English class my teacher teaches us how to become independent,” Senior Kristen Sheffer said. “He gives us the instructions and we are on our own while other classes hold your hand.”

It’s a sad fact that the small lessons to help in the long run cannot fully be addressed because teachers simply to not have time for heart-to-heart lessons. With so much to teach and so little time, teachers tend to be overwhelmed and they cannot find the right time to help the students with a “big picture”  that sticks with them throughout the unit. “I try to have a ‘bigger picture’ behind my teaching methods, but in English classes, we have so much to teach that I find myself sometimes sticking to the curriculum needs,” Botts states.

But the importance of a big picture can’t be overlooked. When students know they can connect what they are learning about to either their futures or the world around them, it helps them connect with their work and with their teachers.  If our teachers could spend more time focusing on the big picture, we students would feel more inspired to go to class. For example, in psychology, not only do we learn about how our own brain functions but we also learn life lessons to help us throughout life and that will make us better people

Schools need more than just a computer lesson and a small quiz at the end to teach them the skills they need for literally the rest of their lives. Yes, parents could also teach them how to do these things, but a majority of the day is spent at school every weekday. If students practiced these skills daily for an entire semester, maybe they wouldn’t be so scared of the next phase in life. And if our academic lessons were directly related to the world around us,teachers could stop hearing the infamous question, “When am I ever going to use this in life?” We need to start focusing on not what should be taught, but what needs to be taught.