What They Don't Teach You In School

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?

Why I Don't Watch TV Anymore


  • July 17, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    What I wish schools would teach is money man agement and how to avoid getting into debt. By the time I finished college and was two years into working, I had racked up about $4000 in credit card debt that was not going away. I wish that someone had taught me alternatives, such as using a debit card instead. I know that our Christian school actually uses a system called “Crown Financial” that gives seminars that are Christian-based on how to manage money, including saving, debt, investing, etc. But I really wish that my parents had been a little more hands-on about what I did with my money and schooling. Even now, five years out of college, I’m still paying around $20,000 in college loans!

  • July 17, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Brilliant post, Sue!

    I’d add taxes to your list and how do credit cards work?

    I know I had no idea about interest payments on credit cards, I was just given one. (Thankfully I had family members educate me early on about the dangers of such a debt load.)

    As we’re seeing the United States with banks foreclosing on houses due mostly to the unquenchable thirst of material goods, this has become a global problem that has most financial experts forecasting a recession. (Some would argue they are already in one.)

    I think Ken Robinson has it right http://www.iaconsultants.ca/index.php/2007/10/29/sir-ken-robinson-do-schools-kill-creativity/ Kids starting school today will be retiring in 2065. We can’t predict what is going to happen three years from now, yet we claim to know how to be educating them for this unknown future.

    I don’t question the heart, desire, and passion of those teaching our future leaders, artists, and politicians – what I do question is the value of what is being taught, as you have outlined. Did you know that the school bell ringing dates back to the Industrial revolution to get kids used to shift change for factory work!?

    We are living in the Information Age. Knowledge is shared by the global community. Kids 10 years old have access to knowledge about any topic they wish – most of which I didn’t experience or learn about until I was in University. This is creating a larger social issue in that they don’t have the life experiences and cognitive maturity to apply this knowledge in a logical or emotionally intelligent manner.

  • July 17, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Another video I came across late last year that has been floating around Facebook – but it talks directly to the issues you’ve outlined in your article, Sue:



  • July 17, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Thank so much for the link up.

    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.

    A very astute observation which is entirely accurate. There many truths about reality which are counter-intuitive. Have you read John Taylor Gatto? Did you know that literacy rates have fallen dramatically since the introduction of compulsory public education? Did you know the rates are still falling?

    You can read John Taylor Gatto’s book here for free. It is fantastic.

  • July 17, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    I’m 39, and in my day, Home Ec and Man & Society and English Writing and the librarian only went so far at my high school. They taught what they could in the time the could based on what was approved and funded. The rest, the kids had to learn outside of school. Basically, things were moving too fast technology wise and the money was being diverted to computer classes no one really needed for another five years anyway, so we suffered.

  • July 18, 2008 at 8:11 am

    I was very fortunate to spend my formative years (Kindergarten to Grade 6) at a private, all-girls school where play, problem-solving, and individual creativity were encouraged. I was allowed to read books that were grades above my own, organize impromptu class activities if I wanted, and was never made to feel “Less Than” because of my gender. So, while I was never taught all of the answers we need in life, I was “taught” to become self-reliant, to seek answers for myself, and to live by my own rules.

  • July 18, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    @amayala, the best way to pay down debt is a method I learned was about five years ago, it’s called the Snowball Effect.

    Basically it works best when you are paying off more that one credit card at a time but I’m sure you can find a way to apply it to your situation, too.

    The idea is to write down all of your income, your monthly expenses find the diference between them. That difference will be everything you use to pay down debts per month. (There much room for fun in this plan, but will get you debt free a lot faster.)

    Lay out all of your debt statements for the month and pick out the largest amount statement owning from the bunch. Set it aside. With the rest you are going to pay all of your monthly minimums so you don’t default on any of those payments. Add up all of those payments and subtract if from your monthly difference.

    What’s left of your money will then go toward the statement you set aside. Do this every month till that card is paid off. The next month, you next highest debt amount will become the one you roll your difference per month over to now that you got rid of the other highest bill per month. And as you pay off each card, you will have more and more leftover difference money per month to apply to your cards starting with your biggest debt on your books.

    If you follow this snowballing your payments over from paid off card dbtss to outstanding card debts, you will be debt-free before you know it. The nice bonus of this plan is you will get used to spending less per month and when you are debt free, those monthly payments then can be immediately dedicated to a savings plan, thus putting you closer to where you should be financially speaking in life, or even ahead of where your peers are financially speaking.

    It’s a very simple and easy plan to follow if don’t give into temptation and fall off the wagon too often. There will be months, like Christmas, where it will be harder to follow this snowballing effect, and that’s ok. The following months you will be able to get back on track and only feel marginally behind of where you want to be. Any extra income throughout the year like tax refunds and raises or company bonuses, can be applied to make up for times like Chrismas so it won’t take as long to get to you target date for being debt free.

    This plan worked for me. It will work for you if you are serious about paying your debt off as fast as possible, and this is the only way short of borrowing money from family.

  • November 23, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    I agree that people don’t learn to love reading in schools. I am often amazed when I see people waiting at bus stops, airports, doctor’s offices, etc. staring out into space. I would go mad without something to read if I had to wait for more than 5 minutes somewhere. I can easily read at least two pages during that time!
    I owe my passion for reading to my mother. Not that she intended it as she was an avid soap opera watcher and insisted we take “naps” every day during her soaps. At first, I could take a toy, then a picture book, then multiple books, then chapter books. I can still remember the day when I was in 4th grade when she said nap-time was over and I said okay, when I’m finished with this chapter!
    What a great gift she inadvertently gave to me, and to my brothers. And yes, I passed that same gift on to my kids, and they’re passing it on to theirs.
    I recently had my IQ tested at 128, and I owe that to all the addictive reading I have always done since I have only “some college” to my credit. I say, if the schools won’t teach us to love to read, perhaps our parents can! And should!



15 49.0138 8.38624 1 0 4000 1 https://suzemuse.com 300 0