11 life skills you didn’t learn in school, but should have

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Schools don’t teach everything they should. 

In fact, there are a number of skills you likely didn’t learn in the classroom which would have benefited you enormously in life. 

Here’s what they should be teaching kids in school to really prepare them for life!

1) Doing taxes

There are classes which aim at financial literacy, but the subject of taxes specifically tends to be overlooked. 

No matter what country you live in, taxes can be complicated. 

It’s not only that they can get very technical and complex, it’s also that many tax systems have benefits and features that are less well known. 

You can miss out on receiving money back or even tax credits and incentives just because you aren’t aware of them. 

You can also end up paying much more tax than you should because you 

2) Organizing a home

There are home economics courses in some classrooms, but the broader subject of running a home and organizing a home is generally not touched upon. 

This can touch on many subjects, after all the original word for economics comes from the Greek word for home. 

The home includes everything:

  • Following a schedule
  • Record keeping
  • Budgeting
  • Preparing food
  • Repairs 
  • Cleaning

These are all things that you learn from running a household, even if you live alone!

They’re all subjects that would be ideal to touch on in school, as well. 

3) Living healthily 

I’ll get a bit controversial here and point out the obvious:

Much of the food industry is overrun by corporations who pump disgusting, unhealthy ingredients into food and then partner with Big Pharma to treat your symptoms once you get sick. 

But there is still healthy food available, and it is still possible to get a good night’s sleep and go for a walk in the great outdoors! 

Schools should be encouraging a healthy lifestyle and teaching students about mental and physical wellness. 

These aren’t afterthoughts, they’re cornerstones of a worthwhile and enjoyable life!

Related: These 8 phrases indicate that someone is genuinely interested in you

4) Morals and ethics

The idea of morals and ethics has become a bit unpopular in the past few decades, replaced by the idea that history and society is just a struggle between the “just” and “unjust” and “oppressor” and “oppressed.”

Lost in such teaching is a focus on individual actions and ethics. 

Whether or not your identity has been victimized or you consider yourself part of various groups and identities, schools should be teaching you about the idea of a universal moral code. 

This can start with something as simple as “it’s wrong to steal” and go all the way to your code of conduct for communicating with others, doing business, entering relationships and handling conflict. 

Everyone’s ethical code may not be the same, but school should be a place where students are, at the very least, exposed to different ideals of how to live life. 

5) Digital literacy 

So much of work and our personal lives now revolves around digital devices, from smartphones and tablets to laptop computers. 

That’s not to mention the growing field of virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI). 

Students should be learning as much as possible about digital literacy and how to stay up to date on the latest technology. 

At the same time, however, they should be learning to avoid digital addiction and have a healthy life where they are not wired up 24/7. 

Psychological damage from digital addiction is a very real thing and it’s horrible to see. 

6) Online safety 

Online safety is another skill that all of us should have learned in school. 

This comes down to having privacy boundaries with people we meet online, but also with understanding anti-virus software, phishing attacks, basic hacking techniques and systems safety. 

It’s hard to maintain your privacy online, particularly from those who might be determined to invade it.

But schools can teach a lot more about how to keep your digital footprint manageable and stay safe online. 

7) Effective communication 

The next vital skill that schools should be teaching students is effective communication. 

This includes the art of active listening and hearing the motivations and emotions behind what people are saying. 

It also includes learning to express oneself clearly, enunciate words, know how to gauge social interest and learn techniques for flourishing in different social situations. 

Learning how to communicate effectively in how we speak and also in texting and emails would be an excellent skill to learn more of in school. 

8) Resolving conflict

Conflict resolution is another skill that should be taught in school.

There are various methods for de-escalating conflict and tension. 

This includes Marshall Rosenberg’s system of nonviolent communication which revolves around stating one’s emotions and needs rather than blaming or focusing on the other person’s offensive statements or intentions. 

These days conflict is more and more prevalent in terms of political polarization, online flame wars and even in terms of socially controversial subjects and arguments that come up. 

Learning how to deal with some of this more effectively would be an excellent skill to learn in school. 

9) Navigating relationships 

Dating and relationships are one of those things that are just supposed to “happen.”

Families and friends may give you advice or help, but teaching relationship skills isn’t generally something people learn in school, apart from perhaps a side note in sex ed. class.

I remember my divorced grade 7 teacher explaining about what falling in love is like and how you’ll know if you’ve met a person you really want to be with forever. 

What about if she doesn’t feel the same way?

What about if you get divorced or you find some things about your partner really hard to take despite loving them at the same time?

Navigating relationships is a skill that should be taught much more in school. 

10) Growing self-awareness 

Another skill that you should have learned in school is mindfulness and self-awareness

There are many practices for growing self-awareness and mindfulness, including as part of communication skills I mentioned earlier. 

Short periods of meditative sitting, examining our beliefs about ourselves or even courses like yoga would be a great addition to school courses. 

There’s really no downside.

11) Critical thinking

Critical thinking revolves around the willingness and ability to question assumptions and beliefs. 

It’s not about conclusions, it’s about the process of examining beliefs and looking at them from different points of view. 

Critical thinking is about taking apart what we feel sure is true and looking more critically at it. 

Even if we end up with the same beliefs we started with, we become much more conscious of what’s created our worldview and that of other people.

This is something that should be taught much more in school, instead of just rote memorization and conclusions. 

The limits of education 

There’s only so much education can prepare you for in life. 

Still:

The above additions to school curricula would be a great step forward. 

Young people deserve to be ready for some of what life’s going to throw at them, and educational systems have the power to do this by updating what they focus on and broadening their scope. 

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