For children that have the means and opportunity to obtain an education, the schooling system often plays a monumental role in their development. It's often within the walls of a school and the fences of the surrounding playground that we begin to discover who we are, connect with people we would have otherwise never known and learn some of the skills necessary to thrive in life.
As exciting and beneficial as the core subjects -math, science, reading, writing, history, geography, arts, second languages, etc. -of modern day education are, they certainly aren't the only subjects we could use an education in. Having now been out of school for well over 5 years, after having spent 17 years fully engrained within it, there are certain subjects that I have later come to know that I wish I would have had the opportunity to be taught about sooner. These are subjects that I feel could drastically improve a child's development while simultaneously improving the state of the world.
Here is my list of 8 subjects that I wish were a part of my school education:
Small facets of the gardening world can be found in certain elementary and high school educations as a part of the realm of science, but in my opinion gardening should be a primary focus. Not only is it very practical, but it also gives us the tools to become capable of growing one of the few resources we all absolutely need to survive: food. A gardening education could start at a very young age by introducing children to the world of sprouting, eventually getting as complex as permaculture and climate/ geographical location focused growth in later years.
2. Healthy Eating
Like gardening, nutrition is loosely addressed or offered as a subject in certain schools. Food is the fuel that drives us daily, so having a full understanding about it is critical to our development, and learning about it at a young age is a great foundation for a life of healthy eating. An optimal curriculum would look at all schools of thought when it comes to nutrition, allowing students to become aware of all alternatives, to become connected to their individual body preferences and to determine the diet that is best suited for them.
The subject matter could even extend into creative ways to make healthier options taste better, rather than just plainly stating that fruits and vegetables are a better choice.
For those of you that do not believe in the practice of meditation, I encourage you to instead look at this subject as personal reflection. I don't think that there are any of us out there that would not benefit from a little quiet time, so why not establish the habit at an early age. Especially as children -where for the most part our concerns pale in comparison to the challenges of adulthood -the potential for meditation could be limitless in both stimulating the child's motivations and creativity, but also in connecting them to who they truly are.
4. Personal Journaling
Personal journaling is a habit I only recently started to incorporate into my life and I already have grown to appreciate having it as a tool for reflection and expression. At several points throughout my elementary education we were given a journal, however each journal entry always came with a particularly focused task. While there is benefit in writing in general, the restriction on writing at least one-double sided sheet of paper about the field trip to the apple orchard is a lot less exploratory than writing about how you feel.
In my opinion it would get children into the habit of exploring rather than suppressing their emotions, giving them a healthy relationship with the voice in their heads -especially starting at a young age, rather than in later years when such a task may be ridiculed.
5. Community Assistance
For the most part schools exist within the core of a local community, a community that each of the children attending the institution are a part of. So why not gear an entire course or subject on creating ways to benefit and optimize elements within that community? We are all creative individuals and when we come together that creativity becomes that much more powerful. So rather than simply requiring that each student completes a certain number of hours of "community service" before they can graduate, why not let them actively service their community throughout their entire education?
The success of this would of course depend on the level of co-operation that the community leaders would give to the schools, something that we can only hope they would be willing to do -assuming that they actually care for the well-being and growth of their area.
6. Alternative Media & Conspiracy Theories
In my opinion a course of this nature would be awesome to see incorporated in schools worldwide, and possibly as an extension to most mandatory media/ current event courses rather than an optional credit.
Whether you are on the alternative media bandwagon or not (although chances are that if you are on this website you are) there is certainly no harm in being informed on all sides of a given story. If we give the students all of the resources to understand the state of the world, they can properly develop the tools to determine which they resonate with. Hearing and deciphering for yourself certainly sounds a heck of a lot more interesting that just blindly being forced to accept one side of a story.
7. Documentary Studies
In my second last year of high school when my accounting teacher got sick for an extended period of time, we were blessed with having an awesome supply teacher who chose to expose us to the documentary Super Size Me. What does this have to do with grade 11 accounting? Not much, but the film itself still stands out to me as one of the most memorable parts of my school education.
Documentaries can be a wonderful resource, especially if shown in an environment where everything presented within them is further explored and understood. I'm sure that many of us can attest to certain documentaries playing a fundamental role in our own understanding of the world, so why not make them a regular part of a school curriculum?
8. Group & Paired Communication
While we are often encouraged and required throughout school to work in pairs and groups on certain projects, this type of collaboration always seems to have one predominant undertone: "we don't want to do this project." Rather than making a particular project the focus of collaboration, why not occasionally offer students the opportunity to communicate with one another freely? The conversations could start at a young age to introduce and familiarize students with the concept of finding connection and assistance among their peers.
To help prevent such an activity from becoming a free-for-all conversation about the hottest celeb or the latest movie, each pairing could be encouraged to share about a particular subject. There are numerous students throughout my elementary and high school years that I never had the opportunity to connect with that I have later connected with, and would have loved the opportunity to know them better at a younger age.