These Are The Subjects That Should ACTUALLY Be Taught In Secondary Schools

By Sarah

August 16, 2018 at 4:09pm


Irish secondary schools tend to vary greatly across the country, but I'm sure we can all agree that our education there didn't exactly cover everything it should have.

There's certainly a few essential life skills that schools don't cover, that would've been helpful to learn as a teenager rather than suddenly being plunged into the adult world and figuring it all out alone.

My own school experience was fairly solid – I went to a multi-denominational school with a forward-thinking transition year programme, where I learnt to ponder questions such as what makes us human in anthropology class, medical skills in first aid and the odd bit of philosophy here and there to really get the mind working.

The only issue was that just one year of those subjects wasn't enough, and some students opted to skip transition year altogether.

If schools offered a wider range of classes and subjects from the very beginning of your education, I firmly believe that the next generation would benefit from this hugely.

I'm not saying these should become Leaving Cert subjects – if anything, they should be introduced to the classroom as a positive, non-examinable break from their regular subjects.

Students' minds would be more open to different cultures and ideas, they would learn valuable skills for independent living, and be encouraged to have more respect and awareness of both themselves and the people around them.

These are some of the things that we could have all benefitted from learning about in secondary school.

1. Personal finance

Leaving school and suddenly being in charge of bills and your own money is stressful.

Teens should learn about credit cards (and the dangers of them), savings tips and interest rates, smart ways to invest your money, taxes and how to manage debt.

Budgets can be extremely stressful when you've never had to use them in a real-life situation.

2. Relationship values

Learning about how to spot manipulative and abusive behaviour, the importance of sexual consent and understanding sexuality in general would really help people improve their relationships for life.

Allowing guys and gals to talk honestly and openly about their different experiences and feelings would help to create a safer environment for us all.

Communications skills should be key here.

3. Mindfulness

The stress of being a teenager should not be underestimated.

Mindfulness can develop skills for concentration and impulse control. It would help young people (and old people, too) to better manage their worrying thoughts and discover how the brain and mind really works.

Simple mediation, breathing skills and finding how to 'be in the moment' will stay with you for life.

4. Survival skills

More of a fun active one, and hopefully something students never have to use but still, it's better to be prepared.

Think simple mechanics skills, first aid, shelter and fire building, food foraging and self-defence.

By being pro-active and taking control of your ability to handle a dangerous situation, survival skills can be a brilliant confidence builder.

5. Mental health

Schools are putting a big emphasis lately on physical fitness, and that's amazing, but mental health is equally as important. Especially for young people!

Stress management skills, symptoms of depression and addiction, and just learning how to have frank and open conversations about how our mental state is could only be a good thing.

Young people are at a greater risk of suicide, so encouraging teens from a young age to talk about their feelings and concerns would be a big step.

6. Sustainable living

In this era of scary climate change and disposable fashion, learning how to live sustainably will soon become even more important.

Educating youth about climate change stats and causes, how to enjoy an eco-friendly lifestyle by eating local, seasonal food and eco-friendly products can go a long way.

7. Human rights

Young people living in such a privileged country as Ireland may often take for granted the very basic human rights that so many other across the world don't have.

Learning about refugee rights, conflict solving situations, and looking at examples of case studies will help teens to develop empathy and a desire to help bring about change for good.

8. Applied maths

"When will we actually ever use this?" is something every single student has said in maths class. I think however, a lot of people don't understand how creative and fun math skills can be.

Learning how to use maths in an invention you've created, such as having to calculate the correct angle or speed that a cog in a clock needs to turn, or having a whole class on the possibility of making your own time machine would enhance student's critical thinking skills and give them a new appreciation for maths.

9. Sociology & anthropology

What does exactly make us human, and how and why are all so different?

Learning about different cultures, race and gender theories, social classes and how politics and society mix is really interesting for young people to study, and will broaden their minds to hopefully start constantly questioning the world around them.

10. Nutrition

I know that this is covered in home economics, but a separate class that focuses purely on nutrition would be so beneficial.

Students would learn the basics of healthy eating, how to cook on a budget, awareness and understanding of eating disorders and general food knowledge and skills.

Have you any suggestions of what subjects the youth of Ireland should be taught as they grow up? Let us know in the comments.

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