Sunday Shout Out – Remaking High School

Today’s question is based on Mary Pride’s claims in today’s Quoting Quiverfull – Does public high school need to be retooled to teach basic life skills or should it stay a preparation for college? Is it a parental duty to make sure that the children in their home learn what they need to function as productive members of society?

As usual you can either sound off in the comments below or shoot an email to CaluluNLQ(at)gmail(dot)com.

Comments open below

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


About Suzanne Calulu
  • NeaDods

    There is nothing stopping high schools from being both — in fact, many of them (as has been pointed out in the other post) already do mix the practical and the college prep. High schools *should* be both, although the brutal truth is that it is very hard these days to go out and get a good job with just a high school degree.

    The problem is defining “basic life skills” – the list Pride gives is horrific in its inclusion of subcultural gender roles and medicinal woo instead of actually focusing on what every teen, regardless of gender or social class, really does need to know. And frankly, people need to know the basics of STEM taught in high school. If they knew science, technology, engineering and math better, scams might have a harder time getting started.

    A lot of life skills could be lumped in with the STEM classes as a “practical” portion of the class. For instance, biology could include first aid. And i mean real first aid, not “nursing” or “herbalism.” I don’t know if four years is necessary a la Pride, but certainly the basic Red Cross first aid classes in CPR and splinting wouldn’t take much out of the semester. On the other hand, learning “paramedicine” doesn’t take the place of biology – whereas a little understanding of biology and chemistry might make a little more clear how useless herbalism is. (Have fun with your tinctures if polio strikes!)

    Similarly, I’ve long thought that economics should be its own class, if not a massive practical subset of mathematics. (Office work, however, in the working machines and dealing with the public, is pretty much a given in almost all summer jobs. All Ms. Pride has to do is let the kiddies out from their parents’ thumbs to go work said jobs. And letting the kids deal with their paychecks, be it wipe out or save, is excellent practical economic experience while the kids are still at home to be insulated from going without food or shelter because they don’t know how to manage their money yet.)

    Also… classes in typing? I did that in middle school in the 70s. With the plethora of computers and smart phones out there, I’d be shocked to the core that anyone but children in areas too poor to have computerized homes or schools don’t know how to type well before high school.

    Family management is a disgusting concept. Yes, I said disgusting. Schools should not be mandating gender roles, marriage, or parenthood. What they should be mandating is “home ec” AND “shop” classes for ALL. Everyone, regardless of gender, ought to know how to cook a simple meal, hang a shelf, take up a hem, reset a circuit breaker, sew on a button, and clean up after themselves.

    In Ms. Pride’s rush to denigrate high school science as useless (especially for girls), she has forgotten that creating a budget is basic math; cooking is biochemistry, fractions, and percentages; knitting is algebra; and quilting/painting/wallpapering/tiling are all geometry. This isn’t college prep, this IS life prep!

    And finally, Ms. Pride: Yes it is possible to learn about the advances of science by reading articles. This is true. But it’s not possible to MAKE the advances of science without science classes. Don’t be that surprised that the larger secular world does not want to set the bar that low for their children.

  • derickrae

    I don’t know everything about homemaking, but what education I did receive has taught me how to look up and learn what I need to know for homemaking. All that Language Arts, Physical Science, and Mathematical training helped me fix my car when I couldn’t afford a mechanic. I knew how to research and obtain a new “Life Skill” because of my fabulous college predatory education.

  • Fledgeling Feminist

    I found it interesting that when it comes to science, you can learn what you need from a magazine, but we need classroom time to learn potty training. Potty talking is a lot simpler than chemistry.

    Also, she paints ree science requirements as reactionary towards the cold war, as if we are not still in an ever increasing technology race with every other developed country on the planet! Unlike most evangelicals, I’m not convinced Jesus will come back right before the fossil fuels burn up, and I’d like some to solve that!

  • Trollface McGee

    All kids should be prepared to go to college with a well rounded curriculum – just because they don’t want to at 18 or because they can’t afford it at 18 doesn’t mean that in a decade or two they won’t change their mind or their career goals. And preparation for vocational training or help getting a licence in a field might help that kid who doesn’t want college but doesn’t want a McJob after graduating.

    A lot of schools already are teaching life skills. Home-ec classes teach basic cooking, budgeting and housekeeping skills and shop classes teach basic repairs and some schools have scrapped those in exchange for a life skills class to combine all that. Most high schools require students to take a basic health class and computer/office skills? You learn most of those doing assignments, papers and research for your core classes.

    What we shouldn’t do is dumb down the curriculum more than it already has been and the last thing we need is more reinforcement of gender roles and making snide judgements about what makes a family.

  • Independent Thinker

    I think high school does need to be retooled but not to include childcare or alternative medicine. I think high school needs a major overhaul in the area of personal finance. High school students need to understand self renewing contracts, compounding interest, default clauses and credit scores/reports. I also think robotics is very vital going forward in our society and very few schools offer those programs. If I had a magic wand I would want more math, more technology, and more science. I personally think things like cooking, sewing, and cleaning are overrated. My husband has many single guy friends who can’t do any of the above however they are in jobs that pay so well they really don’t need those skills. A friend of his writes medical software programs for hospitals and another one is an engineer in the oil and gas industry. They seem to function just fine with take out and dropping clothing off at the cleaners. Some people are in the position where time is money and that shouldn’t be looked down upon. Not everyone wants a family and some of those financially well off can afford to hire people to cook or clean. That’s not necessarily always a bad thing.

  • Periphrastic

    I certainly think that high school kids should be employable straight out of school, but the problem of this is more often one of literacy than training. Why should a school bother teaching someone how to send a fax when the machine at your workplace may work nothing like the one they had at the school? Good reading comprehension and you can learn how to operate any kind of technology. Good math skills teach logical reasoning and problem solving. Good writing skills and you can compose a letter. An awful lot of these homeschooled kids are coming into adulthood with none of these things.

    What needs remaking is not high school, but elementary school. High school is massively too late to be dealing with most of the problems they’re trying to deal with. Smaller class sizes, more personal attention, less rote work and more engagement with younger children would go a very long way towards fixing most of what people see as being broken once those kids are teenagers, unable to keep up with their classes and understandably frustrated/angry about how the system has failed them. But that still means actual trained teachers–and, in fact, more of them. I think a very few people are better able to manage these things by homeschooling, but not if you’re basically teaching by workbook.

  • indigojane

    We all need comprehensive science education because the pressing issues of this, and I suspect future times, involve science. In additional important international issues increasingly involve knowledge of science. As an involved, voting public we need enough information to vote intelligently. The things that need to be decided need a better background than that found in popular magazines. And without a solid math background, we won’t be able to understand the science. I am married to a physicist, rocket scientist so we could probably home school in the sciences, but I suspect our situation is far from common. So, we need schools, schools with excellent math and science departments.

  • Alice

    Yes, maybe the school could teach very basic cooking skills, but most people nowadays do not do elaborate cooking or barely use the stove at all, so there’s no need for everyone to have advanced training. I don’t cook much because it’s hard to cook for one without eating leftovers for a long time.