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Five Courses We Should Start Teaching in Schools

Starting Early Leads to Normalization

One of the best ways to have an idea ingrained into our brains is to start learning it early. The sooner we start the more "normal" an idea becomes. It becomes part of who we are and comes naturally to us instead of us having to adapt and compartmentalize to make space for it.

When a new idea is introduced to us, oftentimes, it conflicts with what we already know and we as human beings need time to properly assimilate the new idea with our current thought process.

Today's world is a lot different than the one just a few years ago. New challenges and unknowns pop up in existence faster than we have time to prepare for them. It's imperative that we prepare our children so that they have the tools and wisdom they can apply to the challenges and unknowns we anticipate and to the ones we don't.

Such a normalization can be achieved to some extent by introducing our children to the following five subjects/courses as early in their life as possible.

1. Bullying

Bullying has truly become a modern epidemic. It has been addressed by people of all statures and from all walks of life. But it always feels like we are catching up to the problem instead of solving the problem. Online presence and social media just adds to the complications, and is indicative of the unknown that we are dealing with.

Research has shown that bullying destroys not only the person getting bullied but also the bully. Part of the reason the problem is so severe is that because most of us do not know how to deal with it or have a stigma attached to it, oftentimes leading to victim-blaming.

But if we introduce anti-bullying like any other subject to children, the idea would become as normal as why stealing or fighting is bad. No one solution is ever going to solve the problem, but the more children accept bullying as bad, the more children will know their options and step up to help.

Here is a video message from President Obama on anti-bullying. It's a positive message and the most important thing it does is that it recognizes bullying as a problem. That leads us to the solution, we should educate our children early on the perils of bullying for both the bully and the victim.

Obama's "It Gets Better" Message

2. Finance

Today's financial world is extremely complex and although it offers wonderful opportunities, the opportunities seem to be limited to a small section of society. The world seems to be divided into two stark sections, one section which knows how to take advantage of financial opportunities and one who stay away due to the fear of it.

Research has shown that when more people participate in the market, the better it does and in turn, results in gains and betterment of life for more people. With that in mind, it only seems logical that we should equip our children to have the knowledge to make better use of such a valuable resource. The more they understand finance, the less they will be scared of it and the more advantage they will be able to take of it.

In addition, as informed and knowledgeable citizens, they will also be able to spot dangerous trends and protect against irresponsible activities, for example the ones that led to the crash of 2008.

Here are some words about teaching finance to kids early from Warren Buffet himself.

Warren Buffet on Teaching Kids Finance

3. Coding

Coding has become one the gateway skills of today regardless of whether one work in that field or not. Picking up basic coding is not very difficult when we start early and it becomes even more easy with all the tools/toys and applications available today.

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Coding enables one to start contributing to society early and it opens doors to a greater understanding of how things work online and lead to smarter and safer decisions as well.

Coding, when started early, becomes as natural as art or singing, it becomes a way of thinking and expressing oneself and just like those arts, it enables one to enrich one's own and others' lives regardless of the creator's age.

Mark's words in the video below are precious and point out the potential of teaching coding in school.

4. Cultural Sensitivity

Human beings have always moved towards better opportunities, globalization in today's world is just a realization of that nature. But as pervasive and in our face as it is, most of us still fumble and stutter when we get into culturally sensitive situations. This limits not only our communication but in the long run, also limits our opportunities and hence our true potential.

This should really be part of our culture growing up so that those sensitive topics are not really sensitive anymore, and so that we can appreciate and understand our differences and learn from them. This will normalize our society to a point where instead of just trying to navigate our way around each other's sensitivities, we can really work together and use our differences to strengthen our society as a whole.

Below is an excellent example of the cultural sensitivity program. We need to make sure that we don't drop this program after daycare or kindergarten, we have to keep exposing the kids to these concepts all the way through school.

Cultural Sensitivity Program Example

5. Ethics

This has been a problem of the ages, but recent times have shown how much economic damage ill-intentions of a few people can really do to the whole world.

With all the tools, mentioned above in the four points, that we are providing to our children we have to make sure they understand why it's important to be fair and just. With all the different ways available today for corruption and so many bad role models available, it is very important to teach that being fair and truthful is a long term strategy and one which we should learn by examples and mistakes of others and not by making our own mistakes.

Although, we don't have to believe in 'karma' at its face value, but when we think about it as a concept, it does make sense. It's just like a domino effect, it's difficult to see the impact of what we do in the short term, but it always comes back, if not to us directly, then it could impact our loved ones.

Here are a couple of articles from Telegraph and, both make really good points about why we should start teaching ethics in schools.

Telegraph Article Article

Putting it All Together

If we can help our children understand that, all of us are in this together, the more prepared we are and the more we realize our strength as a whole and have the courage to accept the mistakes, the better each one of us will do.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2017 Saurabh Kumar

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