I'm just going to cut through the horseshit right off the bat and say this: Public school is outdated. It's not useless -- even having a career in writing, I know that I had to learn all of those English and composition rules before throwing it all out the window and learning to write in a way that gets me an actual paycheck. Wood shop was never going to land me a career in shopping wood ... but it did teach me how to repair a shitty computer desk with a few nails and some duct tape.
We all know that an embarrassingly large chunk of what we learn in school won't ever be used after we graduate. The correct answer to the question "What date was the Constitution signed?" is "Who gives a fuck?" But there are a whole lot of things they should be teaching, because learning them on your own is a nightmare. So for future generations, I'm suggesting ...
5You Must Be Certified In Job Paperwork
Every job I've ever had makes you go through the same introduction package. It doesn't matter what state it's in, or what type of job you're applying for. I've gone through the same paperwork and training videos, whether I was employed as a toy store cashier in California, a roofer in Minnesota, a hotel auditor in Illinois, or a dick joke editor on the internet. They all say the same things: don't punch people, don't get drunk on the clock, don't bring weapons to work. Sexual harassment, respect in the workplace, racial sensitivity ... all things that should be embedded into our stupid human skulls by age eight.
Now, I'm not saying that we should know the laws inside and out before you're even old enough to understand boners. But there should at least be prep classes that start in elementary school, in the same way that math classes don't dump you into trigonometry without first teaching you how to add and subtract. "Here's how to not offend or physically hurt people. We'll talk about the more complex laws when you're older and less stupid."
"OK, do any of you fuckers have a dumbass question?"
We already have this system in place with the Constitution test. You learn the basics like the Bill of Rights in early middle school. Then you take a bigger test right before moving on to high school. Then you relearn and retake that test before graduation (usually in your junior year). That's to ensure that your dumb little middle school brain didn't forget all of that information. It's prep, prep, prep, prep ... OK, now show us that you've actually learned this shit.
All of those basic law-centered training programs you have to learn at a new job should be required before graduation. You'd get a certification, just like you do with CPR in health class. Then when you start a job, you could just show them that certification, and maybe take a simple test on the information, just to make sure you didn't beat the shit out of some nerd to pass the class for you.
There should be a whole section on what a W4 form is, and how the number of dependents you claim dictates how much money is withheld from your check for taxes. I know that some basic economics classes touch on this, but what they don't go into is how that number will change from your first job as a teenager to when you get married to when you have kids. Every situation is different, and if you put in the wrong number, you could end up owing the state money, rather than getting a tax return. I've seen that happen more than once with younger people who didn't understand what those numbers meant.
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"Now let me explain what we call an 'IRS bareback.'"
But all of this should be required fundamental education. Without opening your wallet or purse, what's your Social Security number? Should you keep your Social Security card in your wallet or purse? What does "exempt" mean where the IRS is concerned? If I'm Asian, and I make an Asian joke at work, can I get in trouble? I'm both drunk and fully armed ... should I clock in? Being certified in this would reduce a full day of "training" into an hour-long test. Then you could jump right into the real training on how to piss off all of the customers in the returns line at Walmart.
4You Must Understand Your "Isms"
The internet is no longer just a nerdy place for a niche group of people to gather and argue about the subtext of Fullmetal Alchemist. It's a standard form of communication, and we need to start treating it as such. But this means that as long as we're all on it, we're going to eventually find ourselves in dumbass arguments with strangers about subjects neither side is fully educated on. This almost always involves an ism. Racism, feminism, creationism, jism.
There are so many isms that end up terrible that it becomes a chore to find the ones that aren't. I think this is one of the major PR problems that happened with feminism. People tend to ignore the core people who are fighting for equal rights and opportunities, and instead focus on the loud, brash ones who are misunderstanding the cause as "Fuck men. Let's take power away from them."
No, I'm not saying, "Let's teach all of our kids to be feminists." Put down your fucking pitchforks. I'm saying we need to teach them what these isms actually are, and let them make up their own minds, so that they don't automatically grab their own pitchforks at the mere mention of the term. Because at some point, they are going to get into a debate about these things, and the more they know, the less stupid they're going to look. No, feminism isn't about robbing others of power. No, racism isn't just a thing that happens with openly bigoted people.
I'm not suggesting that we teach kids to become creationists, but there's a constant enough debate that we should teach them what those people actually believe. These are all large social groups whose beliefs can shape and dictate the laws of our country. Their political pressure can and will change what we teach our kids in school. And if they believe in something that you're staunchly against, the only way you can rebut (or support) them is by knowing them. It's why my anti-ninja campaign was so successful in my own kids' elementary schools, and why shurikens are now a form of currency in my town.
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Got change for a katana?
Hell, for that matter, we could even teach them the central debate points each side presents in their own arguments. At least that way, they'd know what's been rehashed a billion times over, so they're not just eating old turds and re-crapping them out for other people to ingest. In fact, let's just call the class that: "How To Avoid Eating Recycled Turds."