All high school teachers have probably heard at least one student ask, “Why are we learning this?” or “How will we ever use this information after we graduate?”
The answers can be lengthy, as there are many uses for the knowledge the students are gaining. The information taught in math, for example, will be used in the students’ personal lives, and most likely in their futures careers as well. They will use math to pay bills, balance their checkbooks, cook, and schedule their time, and depending on what business path they choose, they may need math to do their job.
If reading or literature is the subject in question, the answer is yes, the information and the skills taught in those classes will be necessary for all of life. An exhaustive list of the future uses for this information and knowledge would be lengthy, but the most obvious reason why students should learn how to read and study literature is that they will need those skills to function in society. But studying literature goes beyond helping students perform societal functions; it is also a way of studying the human condition. It helps them learn about different cultures, gain empathy for others, expand their vocabularies, and teaches them how to process information.
Sadly, though, even as society has progressed, the math and reading levels of 17 year olds in the United States has not. For this age group, there has not been much progress in either subject since 1970. As the graph to the right shows, funding for education has increased, but the results have not improved.
Brandon Dutcher discusses this problem and proposes a solution in an article appearing on the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs Blog. This is a problem that needs to be addressed, as our students need to be equipped for the society they will join upon graduation. These students are the future of the nation, and as results are showing, they are ill prepared for the future they face. Now is the time to make a change.