Opinion & Advice


By Jeremy Burton
Whitney Young

In today’s busy world, it seems like we’re on the fast track to the workforce. First comes high school, then college, then the real world—each step prepares us for the next. But teens often wonder, “When am I ever going to use this information again?”

I believe that educators should take a closer look at their curriculums and revise them to include more life skills that will actually benefit students for years to come.

By the time most teens graduate high school, they know how to find the length of an arc in a circle but are dumbfounded when asked to file a tax return for their part-time job.

And while others have mastered various levels of arithmetic, they still find themselves unable to balance a checkbook.

What about networking? We hear a lot about it, but that doesn’t mean we know how to do it. And writing a quality resume? We can breeze through a five-page essay on “The Scarlet Letter,” but we don’t know how to format a resume that highlights our academic achievements.

Yes, academia is important. English, math, history and science classes are crucial for a well-rounded education. But not all skills can be taught with a textbook. It’s time to reevaluate what we learn in the classroom.

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By Siqi Liu
Naperville Central

Some would argue that balancing a checkbook and preparing taxes are life skills. But I would argue that there’s a difference between life skills and survival skills.

A survival skill is something you need to know how to do. A life skill is something that can actually enrich the quality of your life.

The purpose of education is to stimulate students’ minds and give them true life skills that teach them new ways of thinking.

Yes, it’s important for young adults to know how to complete basic tasks, like balancing a checkbook, but they can learn that anywhere. I can Google “how to balance a checkbook” and find a ton of easy-to-follow guides.

On the other hand, googling “Newtonian physics” still yields results—but they’re not nearly as approachable. Concepts like that should be taught in a classroom where students can ask questions.

Even if you don’t plan on becoming an accountant, it’s important to learn basic math skills. Even if you don’t plan on becoming a doctor, it’s important to learn biology and chemistry. Don’t you agree?

Maybe I’m just a nerd, but there has to be a lot more to life than balancing checkbooks.

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By Donald Rapier
The OpEd Project

I understand that the purpose of school is to educate individuals so that they’re better prepared for the future—or at least that’s what I’ve been told.

I’ve been in the American school system for 11 years now and I still don’t know how to take out a loan or file taxes. But next year, when I turn 18 and am considered an adult, I’ll be forever grateful that I know the Pythagorean theorem and order of operations.

Schools should tailor their curriculums toward teaching students more practical life skills. It’s not that the subjects students learn in school are bad, but there should be more balance.

Educators shouldn’t force students to take courses that could be considered superfluous. If a student wants to become a scientist, he or she should be able to take tons of math and science courses.

A student who has no desire to pursue science shouldn’t have to take science classes every year. It doesn’t make sense to take classes that will only become trivial in the future.

—Donald Rapier is a junior at Lindblom.

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About The Mash

The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free every other Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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