You don't know what you don't know; things I wish they taught me in high school

Of all the classes taken and things learned in high school, I have yet to use any of it to reach my full potential (whatever it may be) in life. This may or may not be the case for you, but what I was taught in high school, was to go to college, get a degree, get a good job with benefits, work hard for the company and they would take care of me. What a load of crap.

First off, I never went to college. I went into the Army. Don't get me wrong, i'm a strong advocate of higher education, I just wish it lead to true success (by any definition) in life. Most of the people I know who are in college or went to college are either taking classes they hate, to get a degree for a job they have no passion for, or they're racking up huge amounts of debt that will be waiting for them come graduation whether they get a job in their field or not.

Secondly, getting the degree doesn't guarantee that you get the good job. Their are other variables, like experience, personality, character, and overall attitude that come into play. Too bad getting a degree doesn't include teaching you the people skills you may or may not need for that career path. And no, taking sociology or psychology does not make you a "people person."

And finally, working hard for the company will not obligate them to take care of you for the rest of your years. I don't think anyone in my generation will see a pension. More than likely, it'll be a buy out, so that they can hire a fresh young sucker for half of what you make, doing twice the work, and getting screwed all the while under a new contract.

But come they will, by the thousands, every semester. New recruits, eager to work. The ink not yet dry on their newly received diplomas and degrees, the credit card companies salivating over yet another long term income source. Most of these new graduates are oblivious, either following in the footsteps or the advice of, their parents. Their parents told them to get a good job. Their teachers taught them to be good employees. And then their professors taught them to be even better, more professional, life long... workers. We end up on this path by default.

Basically, we spend the earliest, healthiest years of our life learning how to be an employee. Then we spend the rest of our years working, for someone else's dream mind you, hoping beyond hope we can build a nest egg for retirement. And somewhere along the way we meet our life partners, have kids and raise a family, right? Oh wait, we still have to pay bills. No time for raising the kids. Must go to work so we can save up and put them through college!

Hi Ho... Hi Ho... It's off to work we go!!
Hi Ho... Hi Ho... It's off to work we go!!

Set up for failure

Maybe it's just me. Maybe it was only my high school. But I don't remember anyone teaching me a lick about finances in school. Economics was a half semester shared with government, where we learned what a CD is, and what GNP stood for. No one sat with us and said, "here, let me show you how to open a checking account, write a check, and balance your check book." No one told us how credit works, and how it would effect our future buying power. I mean, I met a 20 year old guy who stopped paying his car payment for 4 months, and his only reason was that he "didn't want the car anymore anyway." He had no idea how it would tank his credit score and probably take him 10 years to recover! He probably has no idea what a credit score even is!

Why is the system failing us? Why don't I see kids playing in the streets anymore, and instead they're all inside playing PS3 and X-Box 360? Why aren't we teaching our kids to dream big, to create a legacy, to make a difference?

My sister, who is 19, was over the other day. She had just had a huge fight with her boyfriend, who turned all "violent victim" on her, to the point that she had to move out so he could not find her. I asked her, "Liz, what do you want to do in life? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" Her response was, "I don't know, right now I just need to get my hair colored." I wanted to reach for her throat.

Now ofcourse, my parents are somewhat to blame here. They could have taught us some of these things. Oh wait, that's right. They weren't taught either! Will someone end this vicious cycle! I swear, I feel like we're headed towards a new Dark Ages! The middle class is all but disappeared, and our nation is raising a generation of dummies.

We're running out of oil, but maybe someone will invent a car that runs on books! It's not like we need them!

Popularity contest

When I was about 25, I used to always say, "Man, I wish I could go back to high school knowing what I know now. I'd definitely get better grades, and the girls wouldn't know what hit 'em." I really thought i'd arrived at age 25! What a concept!

But the fact is, I was too busy worrying about fitting in and being "cool" in high school. I put my grades and homework on the backburner. The fact that I was a self proclaimed "professional procrastinator" didn't help either. But I wish someone would have told me that popularity means absolutely nothing once you graduate. My class president was a major pot head (still is). And our class valedictorian lied to her parents, telling them she was going to UNLV, but really she wanted to be a Vegas stripper! And she was. I wish someone could have passed on the wisdom that it doesn't matter what people think of you, and to build strong relationships with true friends.

Most of all, I wish I could have learned to follow my dreams, my passion. I wish someone would of taught me to think long term, and to put priority on things with long term value. I wish someone could've shown me the difference between an asset and a liability, and that, in most cases, a new car or house is not an asset. Now, all i'm saying is, I wish I could have learned this in high school. It would have saved me a lot of time and heartache. Obviously I still managed to learn it, if not way later. I learned most of it through reading books. And so, as in most of my hubs, I would like to encourage all of you to read like there's no tomorrow. (If you don't, there might not be.)

But it's never too late to change your direction in life. You just have to change the way you think. You will never rise above your own thinking!

In closing

Now, I am not trying to play victim, nor do I condone anyone else doing so. This isn't the blame game. I understand you can't control the cards life deals you, but you can control how you play your hand. But that's not why I wrote this hub. I'm just saying I wish high school was more of a stepping stone in life, rather than a cliff. Cause too many of us are falling off of it. It's time for change.

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Comments 15 comments

Dave Teacher 8 years ago

It's about time we had a curriculum conversation in this country about what's really going to matter to kids who are leaving high school. Great points!


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

Hey. This is a very, very nice hub! You really have an excellent style and your points are right on (to me at least). I think I pretty much taught myself everything I know too, mostly from books. What a difference it would have been if my schools teachings had supported that sort of education, instead of thwarting it.

Excellent job! Kudos to you!


ParadigmShift... profile image

ParadigmShift... 7 years ago from San Jose, CA Author

Thank you for the comment Christoph! Good job teaching yourself what you need to know. It shines through in your hubs! I am definitely a fan of your style as well. There's nothing like an unpredictable source of laughter and intrigue.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

Too true, too sad, but too true.


countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 7 years ago from Washington, USA

I partly agree schools don't teach us everything that we ought to know. In India there are too many graduates with degrees in science without jobs. Now slowly there are vocational schools(Carpentry, Plumbing, and so many other courses) starting which have a greater chances of finding employment than traditional science degrees. There are always Fundamental Research and Applied Research. Schools churnout more graduates for Fundamental Research areas which may or may not be the right course for the particular individual.

I guess each person has to have their own action plan as they say "Plan your work and work you plan" and those people who don't have then its tough as they say "Failing to plan is planning to fail".


KT pdx profile image

KT pdx 7 years ago from Vancouver, WA, USA

Great hub! I was one of the lucky ones who learned about real life in high school, but not many did. A younger friend of ours who lived with us for a year didn't know much about real life. We tried to teach her what we know, and somewhat succeeded. If there were more people who would teach real stuff, society would be way better off.


ParadigmShift... profile image

ParadigmShift... 7 years ago from San Jose, CA Author

To all: Thank you for the comments.

I agree, our educational system is in a sad state of affairs. I live in California, where the budget puts more money into health care for jails than it does for schools. We forget that tomorrow's leaders must be educated in today's schools.

Maybe someday soon, when they realize the root cause of todays financial turmoil, they'll change (or add to) the curriculum to include some kind of life skills classes. It truly is time for change...


countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 7 years ago from Washington, USA

ParadigmShift- I volunteer at the local county library in washington. We are running a project to encourage kids to read. As they say "Readers are leaders" hence too much of Video games/Computer games robs the kids of their time/effort which can be invested in enjoyable learning.

Nothing is achieved when we are blaming others instead if we can make a small effort with our time or money or efforts then certainly it will pay big dividends. As Gandhi put it, "we must be the change we wish to see".


ParadigmShift... profile image

ParadigmShift... 7 years ago from San Jose, CA Author

I admire you for volunteering to help children, especially to read. I agree with you about blaming others. As easy as it is (I think we all slip up sometimes) to point the finger, in the end we can't force anyone to change, we can only change ourselves and be the example for others to follow.

I can sit here and complain about what should have been done back then, or I can start to change things right now.

"The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today." - Chinese proverb


countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 7 years ago from Washington, USA

ParadigmShift- I didn't mean to point fingers at you. I was just reflecting myself as many a times I feel what is the purpose of my life? If I as an individual can do anything or does it really make difference to the world. I started reading some biography's since last year and felt motivated to spend some time in social service & voluntary activities and slowly I feel my life is more meaningful than just worrying about my personal needs. All of us do matter and everyone of us if we can bring a joy or share someone's pain than we all would be happier.

That's a good chinese proverb and I didn't realize life is more meaningful when we do something without expecting anything in return.


TheMoneyGuy profile image

TheMoneyGuy 7 years ago from Pyote, TX

Paradigm Shift. If you like to read and want to understand why our education system is the way it is. Read the book Everything you know is Wrong edited by Russ Kick. It is a collection of works and on page 278 there is an article by John Taylor Gatto. He was the New York State Teacher of the year in 1991. He does an excellent expose on our education system and why it is designed to create failure and illiteracy for a large majority of our population. It will answer your questions as to why it is the way it is. When you read it, you will then have to ask yourself what will be the true consequences of changing it. TheMoneyGuy


ParadigmShift... profile image

ParadigmShift... 7 years ago from San Jose, CA Author

countrywomen - I know you weren't pointing fingers at me. I was just agreeing with what you said about blaming. I think you are on the right path in life. Keep leading by example! True leadership is servanthood.

TheMoneyGuy - Thanks for the info. I think I might actually have that book somewhere. I should find it and read it.

"If you are to big to follow, you are too small to lead..."


countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 7 years ago from Washington, USA

ParadigmShift- I see you also like quotes. Yes I do agree if we can do whatever we can and live our life with love/kindness for others around us then our lives would have served a purpose. I don't remember who said this but I read "Don't worry about from others what I deserve, think to others how I can serve" I am taking baby steps by volunteering a few hours a week but still it is not enough. I have to do a lot and miles to go before I sleep...


Twin XL 7 years ago

Excellent post. It made me smile. Thanks!


fukyfreshgtothepowerofthree 6 years ago

you are soo right.

our class valedictorian was a major pothead partier.

and yet juggled school and partying.

i dont know how he did it, i couldnt. still cant.

very great post nonetheless

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