If you could redesign school:

So I posed this question on twitter, but I want your more in depth answers and discussion on it!

A bit of background: I've read a whole bunch of articles talking about how the current school system is obsolete.  The articles talk about how students are presented with knowledge they can easily find with the internet, or simply that the subject matter is not relevant in a 21st century world where technology is changing so rapidly.  Or, more generally, I'm sure every single human has said at some point in their life, "Dude... it's not like I'll ever need to know ____ anyways!"  Therefore, how would YOU change the school system?  In particular:

What three subject areas do you think all students should be required to take up through high school?

When you provide your answers, please be specific (ie "Science" is too broad, but "Biology" is better, and "Molecular Biology" would be even better!) and explain why you think it's so valuable to have!  For instance, mine would be this:

  1. Programming - In a functional sense, programming is used virtually everywhere.  Understanding programming allows you to interact with the technology based world we live in.  You look MUCH better on a job application (and can probably apply to a ton more places!)  Moreover, programming knowledge would to create scripts to assist virtually anything.  Run a small grocery store?  You could write a script to do a simple analysis of what products are moving at what time of year to better increase your profits.  Have a small garden?  Some simple coding + a microprocessor (like Arduino) and you can water your plants automatically on schedule!

    In a more broad sense, I feel like programming helps shape how your brain thinks about solving problems broadly.  With programming, you have to understand how to plan out and implement small pieces that fit together to form a larger whole in complicated ways.  I've personally used this sort of thought process to answer seemingly unrelated questions like "how do I plan a large scale event?"

  2. Public Speaking - Not surprised eh?  I cannot tell you how many doors have opened in my life simply because I'm comfortable at talking to other people in any circumstance.  But, for some reason, nobody ever told me how important this was.  Most of the time, public speaking is taught by having debates or presenting boring information about a topic.  I'd want kids to create elaborate presentations about stuff they find awesome!  Presentations teaching other people to do fun things!

    Harvey Mudd had this amazing exercise: you have to explain an extremely complicated topic (that you like) in 5 minutes or less.  When the clock hit 5 minutes, a buzzer would ring and you'd be cut off!  Almost all the students went over time on their first attempts and the teacher made us re do it.  The exercise felt not only like a fun game (how can I cut off an extra 2 minutes?) but also wound up being incredibly valuable for how to think about presenting.

  3. Being a Tactful and Good Communicator - I don't think anyone in any context has ever sat me down and said "this is how to be nice in this seemingly impossible context."  Most of the education the average bear receives on how to deal with stuff is FROM MOVIES AND TV.  However, fiction tends to make people needlessly jerky to generate conflict (conflict drives story right?).  What if a family member accidentally said something that hurt your feelings?  What if your girlfriend is dumping you?  What if two of your friends are fighting and they're trying to bring you in?  What if a friend is depressed and wants your support?  How do you handle these situations?  Theoretically, you're supposed to ask your parents and/or friends, but what if they don't know?  I'm sure everyone has that well-meaning friend who gets rageful and burns bridges purely out of not knowing what to do.

    For some damn reason, there's no structured platform to get this information.   Most of the good solutions I've heard have come from trained therapists or psychiatrists being objective and level headed, but for some reason there's generally a slight taboo on people if they go see a therapist.  I'd want to put it in schools!  Teach kids how to be agreeable, friendly, and pleasant to each other for the benefit of themselves and everyone around them!

What do YOU think? :D