High School Subjects That Should Be Eliminated and Replaced

I know you've thought of it before
By
Christian Huerta
students sitting in classroom

 

We often hear trite complaints of how high school didn't prepare someone for the 'real world'. Which better NOT be about teachers, because we know how underpaid and overworked they are. Anyways... Florida's public school graduation requirements are actually quite sensible. So what are we losing in translation? Let's start with what's currently in place. 

Florida's Graduation Requirements

There are three main pathways for students: 24 credit program, 18 credit career prep, 18 credit college prep. But I'm going to focus on the 24 credit for the purposes of this article. (1 credit usually equals one year) Each student must complete:

  • 4 credits of English
  • 4 credits of Math
  • 3 credits of Science
  • 3 credits of Social Studies
  • 1 credit of Fine Arts, Performing Arts, Speech, Debate, or Practical Arts
  • 1 credit of Physical Education
  • 8 elective credits

More detail of this breakdown can be found here

Electives

To me, that seems straight forward. I mostly approve of Florida's requirements because I think certain core classes are necessary for each student to complete. If a student wants to take an 18th century archery course before taking World History, they probably need a reality check. Additionally, 8 electives seem generous; this type of fluid credit requirement structure will prepare students for higher education structures that mimic this credit hour system. So if we're complaining about unnecessary high school classes, we need to talk about which electives schools are offering.

 

students playing basketball
NeOnBrand // Unsplash

 

Truthfully, I was pleasantly surprised. I expected to find out-dated, unhelpful elective options. Rather, I've been finding impressive course options across the state...

    Some of the technical/career development electives offered:

  • Comprehensive Law Studies
  • Digital Information Technology
  • Medical Skills and Services
  • Building Design and Construction Trade Technology
  • Film Production

    Some of the common sense/life skills electives offered: 

  • Parenting Skills
  • Critical Thinking and Study Skills
  • Preparation for Adult Living
  • First Aid and Safety
  • Financial Literacy
  • Unique Skills: Emotional and Social intelligence

However, they aren't always available. Offering electives greatly depend on:

  • the type of program you're pursuing  (i.e. 24 credit, virtual, dual-enrollment, etc.)
  • which county you reside in
  • which school you attend
  • the teachers at your school
  • availability of the teacher that academic year

 

student walking through library stacks
BanterSnaps // Unsplash

 

So, what would you change?

I think the common complaints revolved around fulfilling academic/testing standards rather than focusing on 'real life' skills. After talking to some peers and colleagues, I've gathered these ideas to reshape our courses:

  1. If a class seems necessary, but not overly important, shorten the class to half a year
  2. Rather than testing students on exact dates in history classes, instead ask "what would you have done differently in this treaty?" or "what moral lesson did you learn from this battle?"
  3. Implement facilitation into courses for conflict resolution, negotiation skills, and public speaking
  4. Make courses less about guidelines and more about intellectual stimulation
  5. Allow individual schools to tailor to their student population rather than fulfilling state standards
  6. After implementing more ‘life skills’ courses, make sure students don’t just choose the fun, ‘easy’ electives

Ideas for course offerings: 

  • Finance: Budgeting and Buying
    • How to save, apply and handle loan payments, how to buy a house/car
    • Types of insurance, how to file taxes, 401K plans, build and improve credit
  • Internet Practice and Safety
    • Protect yourself against identity theft, how to avoid scams, safe/productive communication with strangers
    • Preserving a professional online presence, how to use the internet to the best of your ability
  • Livelihood Survival
    • How to change a tire/general car maintenance, sewing/clothing repair, basic construction skills, household cleanliness, renter's rights
  • Career Preparation
    • Resume standards, how to write professionally, common courtesies in the workplace
    • Where to job hunt, seeking professional mentors
  • Food
    • Production and distribution, effects of your diet decisions on your body and the earth
    • How to grow your own, meal prepping, origins of agriculture, grocery shopping tips, how to apply for meal assistance/find food pantries
  • Wellness
    • Prioritizing mental health: mindfulness, meditation, how to cope with stress and conflict
    • Physical health: nutrition and diet choices, implementing physical activity into daily life, sex education/health advice
    • Encouraging passions and activities that bring students joy, offering stability at school when absent in home-life
  • Hurricane/Disaster Preparedness
    • Florida differs from other states in this regard and needs extra safety attention
    • Disaster relief/how to supply aid, how to prepare property for disaster

 

florida school bus
Element5//Unsplash

 

Concluding Thoughts

Florida's school system seems to have adjusted to our more recent reliance on technology. So to keep up with our ever-changing society, we need to keep our standards high, but versatile. Florida schools need to ensure students' needs are being met, which may have to be determined on a school-by-school basis. Whether a district needs more computer technology or more auto mechanics, our high schools should be adaptable.