What I Wish I had Learnt in School (Part Two)
I have recently come to the realisation (although why it's taken me this long to realise this I will not know) that schools, at least nowadays, tend to focus more on getting us to remember information for an exam, than they do on actually teaching us the information and getting us to learn it. I have also realised (for quite a while) that there are so many things schools teach us, yet there is way more that they don't teach us. I have already done a part one to this, so if you want to go and check that out before reading this one (which I highly recommend that you do) then you can read it here. Now you've done that (if you hadn't already), here are some more things I wish I had been taught in school...
I passed my driving test in 2018, and as I took it after the new changes to it were made in 2017, one of the new parts to the test was the introduction of 'show me, tell me' questions; where you have to tell the examiner how to do something (such as how to check your oil levels) and you also have to show them how to do something (such as how to de-mist the rear window). I guess car maintenance is, in a way, incorporated into driving lessons and the driving test, however, I still don't know how to do things such as how to change a tyre or how to jump-start a battery (currently whenever my battery dies, my Dad takes it out, charges it, and brings it back but that takes at least a day or two). I also don't know how to do many other things involved with maintaining a car that I can't even name because I can only just about drive a car, let alone look after one (just as well I don't have kids to be honest).
I'm sure we all did food technology in school (anyone else's teacher start screaming at them, go red in the face, and keep dinging a bell or bang saucepans together on cooking days or was it just mine?). But from what I can remember, we pretty much just made cakes, biscuits, and sausage rolls and certainly not anything that could be considered remotely healthy. But even if they couldn't get us to actually carry out these recipes, I would have loved to have been taught the benefits of some foods and which foods we should be making a conscious effort to eat more of. I have people telling me oranges have vitamin c in them, but I have absolutely no idea what this means or how many oranges I should be eating to get enough vitamin c. Micro- and macro-nutrients? Not a clue. Sure, there's Google, but a) not everyone has access to the internet and/or a smartphone/tablet/laptop and b) I think if food health had been taught in school then I think it could possibly help people have a much healthier relationship with food (I really struggled with food in school and would pretty much starve myself and just eat a salad because I was made to believe by people online that that was the only type of food that was good for me and would then get so hungry that I would just binge-eat every single bit of food I could find in the house, mostly focusing on crisps and chocolate).
I'm sure we are all aware by now that climate change is something that is affecting us all in one way or another and that there are ways we can help try and prevent it, such as by doing more walking/cycling/using public transport and swapping single-use products for reusable ones (such as investing in a reusable coffee cup for when you want another Costa or Starbucks). But this isn't just something that has been affecting us for the last couple of years. Climate Change has been believed to have been occurring from at least the 1800s and I was in school education from 2004-2016, therefore THIS COULD HAVE BEEN TAUGHT!!! I honestly don't believe Climate Change was once mentioned when I was in school, when it is apparently down to my generation (apparently I'm gen-Z, but I don't fully associate with this generation) and the generation before me (millennials) to try and prevent the planet from burning, whilst being called 'snowflakes' in the process. Surely when there's a serious issue like this affecting EVERYONE, you'd have thought the education system would have incorporated this into the system in some way. Well, you'd be wrong. Because apparently learning x=mc2 (that probably isn't correct but oh well) is more important.
Basic First Aid
First aid is probably one of the most important things that any of us could learn, and yet it isn't taught in school. I was actually going to do a first aid course this summer, but coronavirus had other ideas I guess. I guess I have a rough understanding of how to do some things, such as CPR (you have to press up and down in time to Stayin Alive by the BeeGees), and I know this from watching TV shows. But because I only have a rough understanding of one or two things, I don't think I would be confident enough to go and give first aid to someone who really needed it. Given this is something that could help anyone out at any time, even if you couldn't be a certified first aider, surely teaching children/teenagers about first aid and how to perform basic first aid on someone is something the education system should be focusing on? Surely it's important to ensure children are aware of how to perform basic first aid on someone, should they need it, than them having to seek out training as an adult, either because they need it for their job or just because they find it an important skill to have (which it very much is).
Same-Sex Sex Education
This isn't necessarily for me as I am 100% straight, but you can 100% guarantee that there were people in my class and your class that were/are part of the LGBTQ+ community. Education claims to be inclusive, yet when you are only being taught about straight sex and nothing else, surely that's the opposite? Practising safe sex is also important and I could never even begin to imagine what it must feel like to be sat in a class, talking about sex, and not see or talk about anything that represents me. I'm sure we are all aware of the parents who were against their kids being taught about same-sex relationships and were carrying out protests at a school in Birmingham. But children are entitled to an inclusive education and should be taught about same-sex relationships and same-sex sex. It's 2020 and I'm fairly certain many schools still aren't teaching this (please correct me if I'm wrong). This is something that needs to be changed and it needs to be changed now.
Applying for Jobs
I don't know about you, but when it comes to applying for jobs (which EVERYONE will have to do at some point in their lives) I was not taught a thing. I wasn't taught about writing a CV and how to make sure mine stands out. I have heard of a cover letter but have absolutely no idea what one is, why I need one, or what to do with one. I have never had a job interview and do not know the kind of questions I would be asked or anything remotely involved in job interviews. I have no idea how many jobs I should be applying for at one time (do I apply for one or two or do I just apply for everything I can find?) What is a polite way to turn down a job offer? I DO NOT KNOW!!!
Up until recently, the only types of contraception I was aware of was birth control and condoms. I didn't actually realise there are so many different types. I am personally not on any form of contraception as I am worried about the effect putting hormones in my body will have on me, the implant and coil scare me, and having to put a diaphragm in sounds too complicated. I have only ever used condoms (which you should ALWAYS use), which so far have prevented any pregnancy from happening, but I am aware that they are not always 100% effective. But I wish I had been more aware of all the different types of contraception that are out there, which I get you can talk about with your doctor or sexual health specialist, but I think it is important to teach teenagers about contraception as this can help them be more informed if/when they do talk to someone about using contraception and so they are more aware of the effectiveness of each type of contraception.
History of the Fight for Equality (such as women's rights, racism, homophobia)
I'm sure you are more than aware of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has gained a lot more recognition in recent times. But there is a long-running history of unequal opportunities presented to those of us that aren't middle-class, straight, white men. This issue of the current inequalities many people still face and the history behind how people strove to gain equality is something I really wish I had been taught in school.
For starters, let's look at the Vote for Women movement. I only know as much as I do about this because when I took A-Level History, I chose to look at this topic for my coursework. I chose to look at whether the Pankhurst sisters' actions and leadership were the cause of a delay in giving women the vote; and compared this to their actions during World War One and the opinion of those in Government at the time (spoiler: I put it down to mostly the opinions of the Government). I honestly feel incredibly privileged that I am able to vote and believe that if it wasn't for the actions of those women over a hundred years ago, I may not have been able to vote today. I would have loved to have had this topic as part of the curriculum in school as I believe it may have encouraged more people to use their right to vote and it also would have opened our eyes to the fact that a lot of what we have now, wasn't available to us just a mere one hundred years ago.
There is also the issue of racism. When I was in school, in history we looked at the American West and Civil War, we learnt a bit about slavery in America but it was kind of glazed over and more of the focus was on the leaders of the War and the outcomes of each battle. We were also taught that kicking the Indians off their land in the Lousiana Purchase and the expansion of the west for white gain was a good thing; but since when was it okay to kick anyone off of their own land? In PSHE we also learnt about the Stephen Lawrence case, however only one lesson was spent on this and I don't think we were made aware of the fact that this is still an issue today, which I think would have been particularly important given that I come from a town where 98.5% of the population is White British, as we are most susceptible to have the wool pulled over our eyes and believe that racism no longer exists, despite the fact that it is still an ongoing problem in society today. I can only hope that the recent death of George Floyd and the continued support for the Black Lives Matter movement can encourage those in education to include lessons on racism and the injustice Black people and POC face on a daily basis; however, it shouldn't have had to get to this point for people's minds to be opened as to what really goes on in society that we don't realise, but I can only hope this does end with significant change and not people remaining silent because it 'doesn't affect them' or because it's 'no longer trending'.
And then we come onto the issue of homophobia. I know that it has only happened in my lifetime that, at least in the UK, gay people have had the right to get married (although why they couldn't before 2014 baffles me). But other than that, I don't really know the history of LGBTQ+ and honestly believe it would have been best taught in school. I am very aware of the homophobia that goes on in this country and across the globe and I think if more people were educated on the issue, I don't think it would completely go away as it is clear people of a certain generation are very strong on their views and only take these views from what was previously deemed 'correct' in their day and due to the biased views of newspapers they read, however if we start from educating young people, this can then (hopefully) contribute to the education of older generations in one way or another.
So that's everything I wish I had learnt in school. Did you learn about any of these in school? If so, I would love to know what and how much you learnt about the subject. Or were you like me and didn't learn about any of these? I would love to know your thoughts in the comments and if there are any other topics/subjects you wish you had learnt in school. I'm not planning on doing a third part to this, but if there is enough interest I may just do one.
Love Beth xx