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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

5 Things Every Kid Should Learn In School

I have been known to rant about the stupidity of people from time to time. This got me thinking about why some of this stupidity wasn't stamped out an early age, which led me to pontificate on the educational situation in the U.S. So I came up with a list of 5 things every kid should learn in school (but probably don't).

I'm not a teacher and haven't been in school for 18 years. It's possible some of this stuff is now being taught, but I doubt it. If so, let me know...

#1) How to Fall Safely

I have trained in the martial arts for over 20 years now. The only technique I ever applied out of the dojo? How to fall properly. I have fallen on concrete (alcohol may have been involved), been knocked over on an outdoor asphalt basketball court, and tripped while carrying a large piece of furniture I was helping a friend move. I escaped all those situations with nary a scratch on me. All because I learned how to fall properly in karate.

With all the crazy stuff kids learn in phys ed, would it be that big a deal to spend 15 minutes a day for a couple of weeks teaching everyone how to safely fall forwards, backwards, and to the side? I first thought of this when I read the tragic story of Natasha Richardson. Some simple training may have been enough to prevent that.

#2) Don't Be Creepy

Follow up to my Don't Be Creepy post. Creepy adults start as creepy kids. I think a "don't be creepy" class should be mandatory.

#3) Personal Finance

I'm not saying a little education would have prevented the massive financial crisis going on. But every time I see an article or book that talks about the "amazing power of compound interest!" I think to myself, "so what? That's old news." I learned that in 3rd grade when doing a brain teaser on a little girl scheming some dude out of his money by accepting a penny for payment on day one and then having the payment double everyday for 30 days.

Personal Finance around interest, mortgages, credit cards, loans, etc. is math that everyone will use someday. Learning how to use a Math Mira is something that no one will ever use. Ever. (And please, if your job involves using a math mira then go ahead and comment and tell me how wrong I am. Then go re-read the "Don't be Creepy" post). It doesn't need to be financial advice, but teaching the underlying math behind these issues seems like an obvious place to teach kids how to not screw themselves out of a future when they become adults.

#4) Meditation

Not that hardcore "get in touch with your spirituality" type meditation. But I feel a huge part of the challenge people face these days is the inability to disconnect from the world and all the stimulus in it. I know kids (and some adults) who sleep with their cell phones in hand or under their pillow so they can keep texting until they fall asleep and start texting immediately upon rising.

Simply developing the ability to sit in silence for five or ten minutes and learning to pay attention to their bodies and intuition could have tremendous impact on all people everywhere. If you haven't yet developed this ability as an adult, I highly suggest you start now.

I know that this is the craziest one on the list but I stand by it.

#5) Improv Comedy

Yeah, I'm biased, but guess what? It's my blog. So there.

Seriously though, teaching improv is not about making everyone a performer. But an activity that stresses the fundamentals of communication while helping kids access their creativity and learn how to think on their feet? Tell me that that wouldn't make a kid better able to be successful in the world than learning how to bake a home made pretzel in 7th grade home economics.

Like I said, for all I know this stuff may already be being taught in schools. But I doubt it. But parents, just because this stuff isn't taught in schools doesn't mean your kids can't learn them. Teach them this stuff when they're young so it becomes automatic, and they will be well ahead of the game.

And if you, as an adult, haven't learned these things yet, then get started now!

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