Never before has human knowledge expanded as quickly as it is doing today. Every evening’s newscast brings viewers several new and amazing items of information of which they had previously been ignorant.
In an frantic effort to keep up, many schools are focusing more and more on academics. Children are subjected to greater content in each course, more Homework, more tests, and more stress.
Unfortunately, some students who need more practice, or greater reinforcement of skills before they are ready to move on, are falling through the cracks. It is quite possible to move through the system, based on promotion by age, without having achieved mastery of basic skills and ill-equipped to enjoy some of the finer pleasures life has to offer.
The following courses and skills should be compulsory for every student, even those who fail to make satisfactory progress in the academic area. Thus, when they leave school, they will have the tools needed to participate in and enjoy the same cultural pursuits as their more gifted peers.
The adult who cannot read is not only at a great disadvantage in confronting the difficulties of everyday life, but he is also deprived of a means of relaxation, entertainment, and learning which will benefit him until the day he dies. Books can be enjoyed anywhere, on a train, in a waiting-room, even during a hospital stay. Every student, who has sufficient ability, should be taught to become a fluent reader.
Children will invariably seek out the music of the day, but unless they grow up in a family which values culture, they will be unfamiliar with the classics, including the great operas. The school should step in to fill the gap, through class trips to hear symphony orchestras, or other classical music presentations. The plots of operas could be introduced in Literature classes and the music presented on a CD. Trips to live ballet performances would also be of value, as well as renting DVDs of classical offerings performed by well-known companies of artists.
There is an emphasis today on physical fitness. During Physical Education classes, the children should not just exercise, but also be introduced to sports in which they can participate in their adult lives: golf, jogging, speed walking, ballroom dancing, squash, tennis, and badminton. Of course there should still be time for traditional games like hockey, soccer and baseball, but not everyone will become a professional athlete; most people will just play for enjoyment, companionship and to maintain fitness.
From Kindergarten and the fun of finger-painting, to illustrating projects and the more complicated assignments in upper grades, children have many opportunities to express themselves artistically in school. However, they are seldom taught to recognize the components of great works of Art. They need courses in Art Appreciation and trips to actual Art Galleries. If the school is in a remote area, slide presentations would be a satisfactory substitute.
All children today are taught computer skills. With the computer, there is almost instant access to any and all knowledge that is available to humankind. Young people no longer need to store vast amounts of information in their heads- it can be summoned up from Google at a moment’s notice.
What they will need in the future are means of relaxation and the ability to appreciate time-honored forms of beauty, most of which have been passed down from previous generations . The suggested courses will do much to enable every child to appreciate and make use of these valuable inheritances.