What Should You Have Learned in High School, But Didn't?

This thread is about academic topics, not about life lessons, day to day advice, etc.

When I got to college, I sometimes felt that I was the only person there who didn’t know about certain things. For example:
[li]I had never heard of Charlemagne.[/li][li]I didn’t know that the Roman Empire had split into two (Rome vs. Constantinople) by the Middle Ages.[/li][li]The Spanish Inquisition, to me, was little more than a joke in a Mel Brooks movie.[/li][li]I had no idea how to conduct scholarly research or to write a thesis.[/li][li]I had no idea who Joan of Arc was (other than she was NOT Noah’s wife).[/li][li]I couldn’t find most major cities in the US on a map. I thought Las Vegas bordered Mexico, and that New Orleans was within a few miles of Florida.[/li][/ul]

That’s just what I can think of right now.

What about the rest of you? Did your high school education leave you cold?

Never learned to parallel park. Seriously, had drivers ed my sophomore year and we had a big snowstorm in February. We were out of school for two weeks that we didn’t have to make up, govenor pardon or something. Anyway the part of Drivers Ed I missed was paralllel parking. I’m 34 years old now and in the last couple years I’ve finally taught myself how to do it.

I didn’t learn how to cook anything, clean anything, repair anything around the house, make anything with my hands, or speak any language besides English or French.

These skills were less important, apparently, than the approximately one million credit hours of calculus which I forgot in their entirety immediately upon graduation.

(I literally do not remember anything I learned in math class from grade 10 on; fortunately, this has not proven to be a handicap, which makes me question why I had to take it in the first place.)

Run on sentences are more that just really really long. So basically I had no idea when to use a comma.

I, also, do not know how to parallel park (though that isn’t a big deal here in Oklahoma). I took two years of French, but I can only read it, and it can take me a while to puzzle through it.

Asian, Middle Eastern, and African history (was and still is to some degree) just a big ?. For that matter, much of European history as well.

I didn’t learn much about art, either, and what little I did learn, I learned on my own.

I have never been able to (I forget the term) go through and “label” all of a sentence - such as one work is an adverb, this other one is an adjective, etc. Though I can usually get the noun :smiley:

**- Basic critical thinking skills

  • Finance 101

  • Anger Management

  • Time Management

  • Morality, Ethics, Diversity**
    I learned these on my own, which is ok. I just think these subjects should get more than a cursory overview in H.S…

Thanks to the Canadian education system, I came out of high school with no idea about politics, world history, economics, literature (other than Ray Bradbury), biology, physics, what algebra, calculus and trigonometry are or what they’re used for, how to build or fix anything, how to study, debate, write a thesis or dissertation, or how to function in the real world once I was thrust into it.

How about:

-how to balance a checkbook
-how to do my taxes
-how to manage a household budget
-how to change the oil in my car
-how to change a flat tire

Anything that happened after 1945. All of the history books we had ended with dropping the bomb on Japan.

(1) Biology - our Biology teacher was much more concerned with conduct in class than he was with teaching us anything. As a result, we learned very little other than ways to goof off or pester the instructor.

(2) “Shop” - I went to a college prep school. We didn’t have anything like “shop” class. I would have liked to have learned such things as car repair and general home maintenance as I didn’t learn it anywhere else.

How to drive.

Actually, I learned how to drive. I just never got my driver’s license and haven’t needed it up til now. Now, I need it, and I’m going to have to work my butt off to remember how to drive, since it’s been 8 years since I’ve driven at all.

  1. Long division, because there are lots of times when I could use the ability to work out long division on paper. Instead we did tons of obscure maths that I’ll never use, and spent at least 6 months a year on “How to use a calculator” :rolleyes:

  2. Geography - we never had a single lesson in geography in my entire schooling. As a result, I’m a comlete ignoramus. I’m trying to be a bit more motivated to learn more about the world now, but it just seems like something they should cover in school.

  3. How to use kitchen appliances. The line they gave us was that we needed to learn how to cook without luxuries like electric mixers and microwaves and so forth, so that if we ever found ourselves without them we’d still know how to function. The problem was that I was never taught how to use appliances, and so in real life, when I actually had access to those things, I had no idea what to do with them and ended up doing everything by hand. I don’t know what became of my classmates who wanted to get into catering unless they were taught how to use the appliances at home. Our school did actually have those things - the mixers sat up the front of the room, gleaming and mocking us as we creamed butter and sugar by hand. I think the cookery department was being held back by some old fashioned thinking.

We did all kinds of crazy classes at school - glass blowing, powder coating, leadlighting, jewelry making. We made our own circuit boards, toothpaste and vegetable gardens. We even raised chickens - at home for several days, and then they went to live at the school where they regularly broke into and destroyed the vegetable gardens. Despite the great variety of different subjects on offer, we missed out on a lot of basic information that I’m still struggling to gain ten years on. Yet I’m one of the lucky ones - I managed to learn to read and write. Many of my classmates and even my brother left school with a very poor grasp of English. At 16, my brother was assessed as having the reading and mathematical skills of a nine year old. He’s an intelligent guy who was never held back, and none of his teachers ever raised any concerns about his skills - because he was fairly typical of his age group.

World history. I was always in the “gifted” program which meant I could skip out on history in middle school. (not sure I understand the reasoning here tho’ :dubious: ) And in high school, we didn’t have a general world history class. So I hit college with very little world history at all. I still have no idea when Mexico became an independent nation…

How to type!!! Back then only girls took typing so they could learn to be good secretaries. Shit, what other kind of job you gals think you were going to get, anyway? :rolleyes:
They had already given up on penmanship at that point, and I still find it painful to write long-hand - my fingers clench up and cramp. It wasn’t til years later and I got an electric typewriter and learned the two-finger sports-reporter method. I was finally somewhat liberated in my communications.
No girly-typing for boys in my schools - no sir!


I notice lots of driver’s ed note above, so I’ll add this: Our school’s driver’s ed instructor periodically was the substitute bus driver in our neighborhood. One day I missed the bus, and my dad drove me to school. We ended up driving behind the bus I had missed. Dad watched this guy hitting curbs, not signaling, etc., and told me immediately that I was not taking driver’s ed at school.

So I didn’t. Dad taught me. :slight_smile:

Anything about the U.S. Civil War, except that the North won. I don’t even know if that was taught in school. Everything I know about it, I learned from reading *Gone With the Wind * a zillion times, which may not be a very good source.

Also, I didn’t learn anything about any non-Catholic religions, despite having a one-semester course called “World Religions”. It was taught by one of those old-school Catholic teachers who would say things like, “And can you believe that the *Jews * don’t believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior?” in a very shocked tone of voice.

I believe that every high school should have a course that covers: balancing a check book, figuring our loan rate things, making, and keeping to, a budget, etc.

I’d call it Practical Math, and it would be a mandatory course.

Compound interest–what it is and how to calculate it.

The Scientific Method (though in 7th grade biology we did learn the valuable lesson “Don’t eat anything if you don’t know what it is.”)

How to footnote, how to do research, and how to interpret the material you read rather than just repeating it when you wrote a paper. Apparently this is a common problem, as one of my professors (in 300 level courses, by the way!) always took a day in the semester to explain to the students how to do these things.

I do know how to balance a check book (and do mine at least once a week) and do up a budget, but I have no idea how to figure out the interest on my car loan, or credit cards. Nor could I go to a car dealership to buy a car and figure out what my monthly payments would be based on the price/interest rate.

Anything about Vietnam. I graduated in the mid-Eighties, so there was certainly time to get something in the books, but American History seemed to end with the Cuban Missile crisis. Even with that, we never really learned anything about communism, just that the godless commies wanted to nuke us all, and that our presidents from Ike onward were working hard to avoid pushing the button.