I came across this statistic in a post by Steve Olson and it outright shocked me:

  • 58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school.
    (original source Jerrold Jenkins www.bookpublishing.com).

58% NEVER read another book??? I can’t even imagine going a DAY without reading. If you look around our house, our bookcases, end tables, bedside tables are overflowing with books. Who are these people that NEVER read another book after high school? And why aren’t they reading? Reading is an essential skill for understanding the world around us. I can’t comprehend what someone’s view of the world would be if they never read a book.

It seems to me that if the school system was doing its job, nearly everyone would be passionate about reading. What are we teaching our kids, if not to love learning? And what better way to learn than to read? Yet over half of the population couldn’t be bothered to pick up a book. Is it possible that our school systems are not doing their job? I want to share with you my experience with public education in the hopes of shedding some light.

My Dad was in the Canadian Armed Forces and we moved around a lot when I was a kid. Over 13 years, I went to 3 different elementary schools and 2 high schools, in 2 provinces and 1 territory. In Canada, education is governed provincially/territorially, so every time I switched to a different school in a different province, I was forced to fit in to the curriculum and level of a new school system very quickly. It was detrimental to my ability to keep up. In six months, I went from being an “A” student in British Columbia to being a “C-” student in Ontario. The reason I wasn’t able to learn French in school was because 10th grade French in B.C. is equal to 3rd grade French in Ontario. When I asked if I could take French, the school administrators simply told me I was out of luck.

In the end, I was able to work really hard and overcome. I graduated high school with a B+/A- average, and to be honest the benefits of the life I had growing up, being able to live in so many different places and meet so many people, far outweighed the struggles I had with my education.

My point is, that the education system is not set up to be conducive to learning. As counter-intuitive as that may sound, it’s absolutely the truth as I see it. Here is a list of 10 things that I was never taught in school that I think should be on any curriculum. If you were taught any of these things at your school – that’s great! I’d love to hear about schools that are doing it right. Here’s the list:

  1. How to start and run a successful business.
  2. How to cope with disappointment.
  3. How to love books and reading.
  4. How to think for oneself and draw one’s own conclusions about things.
  5. How to communicate with a spouse/partner.
  6. How to manage finances and invest wisely.
  7. How to speak in public.
  8. How to write a business proposal.
  9. How to apply for a mortgage.
  10. How make wise choices when buying a car or house.

These are things that I only learned after I graduated from high school (and college). Why did I have to figure all this stuff out once I was out on my own? Doesn’t it make sense that arming our young people with this kind of information from the jump would help them to make better decisions in the long run?

What do you think – are our school systems doing their job?