We came up with a list of 5 classes that we think would be beneficial for all students to take in high school. Many of these classes are offered at universities throughout the country, but what if all students were exposed to them in high school? We focused on classes that would help broaden the mind, benefit a community, and give students a upper hand when it comes to the world outside of school.
Philosophy teaches you to think, question, and wonder about this complex world. It invites conversation, debate, and serious questioning of our perception of reality and morals. It also allows students to learn humility and vulnerability. Just how big and important are we? What is justice? What is truth? What is virtue?
In Italy, history and theories of philosophy are taught throughout Italian high schools. The result is a culture that allows it’s people to really engage in their feelings without being ashamed. They are not alone in their quest for truth; many countries throughout the world make teaching philosophy a priority.
Teaching philosophy to our students could lead to a more empathetic and understanding community. It would give students a tool to use for better self-awareness, which can result in better decision-making and a happier society. Let’s give our students the opportunity to learn about deeper thought and understanding, something that would make Plato and Socrates proud.
2. Personal Finance
Personal finance classes should be mandatory for all students. Great money habits are critical, especially right now. The reality of student loans, taxes, credit cards, and credit score can really become overwhelming if you don’t understand the system. Additionally, it would be great to teach high school students to have simple saving skills. We can expose some financial secrets that Wall Street bankers don’t want you to know, and it would allow students to get ahead of the game to understand the big picture. Although high school students may not be thinking that far in the future just yet, having access to that knowledge is critical when big decisions on personal finance do come up.
3. Culture and Religion
Understanding, appreciating and respecting each other’s thoughts and beliefs teaches empathy and tolerance, which is vital for a growing and diverse community. There are many different beliefs systems and cultures throughout the world, and it would be beneficial for high school students to gain more exposure to each. Though some of this is covered in world history, it may be more interesting and beneficial to learn about current cultural events and religious traditions in this global society to give students a more solid outlook on how the world works. To be clear, there is a difference between teaching religion and teaching about religion. Read more here.
4. Logic and Mathematical Thinking
It seems like Logic and Mathematical Thinking would be covered in your conventional algebra class, but surprisingly, it’s not. Logic and Mathematical Thinking covers how to think like a mathematician, versus how to actually do the math. In these studies, only variables are used (no numbers) and it lays a base for a mathematical thinking process. This class could be beneficial in many aspects of a high school student’s life; it would be helpful for students struggling with basic algebra to students preparing for SATs. Read more about logic and mathematical thinking here and here.
5. Environmental Studies/Science
The impact humans have on the environment is very real, and yet we don’t learn about it until we are in college. Creating ecologically literate students would benefit our future and our children’s futures. Environmental education is not only facts and figures about the natural world, it’s a deeper understanding of how dependent we are on nature, and how dependent nature is to us. By exposing students to environmental studies when they are in high school, they could pursue a degree in that field, and eventually could help reduce waste or curb CO2 emissions or change the world! Whether we like it or not, climate change is happening and we need to arm the next generation with the knowledge to help combat it. Read more about AP Environmental Science here.
We also asked Juniors at WHS what classes they would like to see added to their curriculum. The results somewhat crossed paths with ours; some students said they wanted to see environmental studies and personal finance classes. The most popular class they wanted to see in the cirriculum: Cooking.
What classes would you like to see taught and why? We’d love to hear from you!