Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Six Courses Every Student Should Take

The traditional courses in math, science, language arts, and social studies are absolutely necessary for anyone expecting to have a well-rounded education. But there are some other courses that I feel should be required for all students.

1. Typing (keyboarding): At the present time almost all information is entered into a computer or phone through a keyboard of some type. Eventually voice recognition technology may take over, but right now, typing skills are a must.

2. Non-fiction Reading: Most of the reading I do is non-fiction and I don't mean biographies or self-help books. I mean insurance policies, tax code and forms, owners manuals, directions, research articles, investment reports, and so on. These are some of the most prevalent and difficult materials to read and yet they are rarely taught.

3. Mandarin Chinese and Hindi: I know that learning a foreign language is important. When I studied Spanish in high school, it actually helped me in my English classes. I have recently found on Twitter, that I'm able to understand the tweets from people living in South America, Spain, Italy, and France. And this is from studying Spanish 40 years ago. With the people of China and India making up about 38% of the world's population, these are two languages that should be added to the curriculum. The four languages spoken by about 30% of the world's population are Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, English, and Hindi/Urdu. The six official languages of the United Nations are Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, English, Arabic, Russian, and French.

4. Research: I believe every student should have to take a research course in high school. I know that research papers are done in other classes, but to me, one course devoted to research makes more sense. First, this would free up time in other classes. Second, all aspects of research could be studied in one course. Students could see how the library (research), mathematics (statistics), science (scientific method and experimental research), reading (gathering information), writing (creating the report), history (gaining previous information on the topic), technology (presentations), and speaking (presentation or defense) are all related to each other. Too often students think of their courses as separate entities, completely unrelated to one another. Research can bring it all together for them. I know that this has been a course previously taken by those working on higher degrees in universities, but I also know students would benefit greatly from having more of it in high school.

5. Finance: So many students graduate with little or no knowledge of the financial world. This course would include consumer skills, investment practice, and economics. Students could study taxes of all kinds, filling out forms, budgeting, working with a financial advisor, etc. Information on entrepreneurship and small business ownership could be included. I know that many schools include this type of information in their business departments, but it should be coursework that every student is required to learn.

6. Physical Education and Health: In some schools these courses have been abandoned or reduced to just a day or two a week. I truly believe students should have a certain amount of physical activity each day. With health, medical, and insurance issues being such a major concern in today's society, student's need knowledge as to how important physical activity and exercise are.

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