Empowering Tomorrow’s Adults: navigating the debate on integrating life skills into high school education

February 16, 2024 /

By Kevin Hernandez

In a time when students finishing high school are dealing with a more complicated world as they become adults, there is a growing request for school lessons to go beyond the usual subjects and cover the practical aspects of future adult life. 

As students prepare for the challenges beyond the classroom, advocates argue that a more comprehensive approach, encompassing topics like taxes, financial literacy, and essential life skills, should be integrated into high school education. This shift aims to empower the next generation with the knowledge needed to thrive in the real world, ensuring that they excel academically and confidently navigate adulthood’s intricacies. 

But how would this be included in the school curriculum? Or would most high schools even consider adding basic life skills to their program? These are the questions asked by many regarding this theme.

McFarland High School staff were asked multiple questions regarding this subject, and these are their responses:

“We try to use Student Development, a Freshmen course, all Freshmen take it,” said Benjamin Taylor, Vice-Principal of Academics at McFarland High School, after being asked if he saw any opportunities in having a course dedicated to future life planning. He then explained that this course gave students both High School and College credits. “It’s a dual enrollment course, so they get High School credit and College credit.”

The student development course (STDV B1) allows students to look over their future lives. According to the Bakersfield College site, the course is called “STDVB1 – Educational Planning” and is designed to assist students in discussing strategies for choosing a major and/or career and to help them make educational plans based on their individual career goals.

“I also teach as an adjunct at the college, and I’ve noticed a lot of incoming students who have just graduated from high school have a really hard time transitioning,” described Leah Avila, a McFarland High School teacher.

It was explained that college students were not prepared and had a hard time figuring out what they had to do with their paperwork.

This is a subject that can be taught during school but is usually absent, although some programs help you out with paperwork during high school and college.

However, not everyone has the same opinions. When Alan Navarro, the McFarland High School Vice Principal of Discipline, was asked if he believed that incorporating lessons on responsibility could contribute to a more positive and responsible student body, he expressed his own opinion.

“Incorporating specific lessons for ethics, I don’t think I would necessarily support. I just think within the daily record of a classroom, the standard set by the teacher, and the expectation set for the student, that’s what the ethics and the moral and the sense of responsibility,” said Navarro. “So, I wouldn’t be in favor of lesson plans directed at these topics, but rather throughout the year, through that education experience.”

So, the debate continues how best to integrate these crucial life skills into the broader curriculum. While some argue for dedicated courses, such as those on responsibility and ethics, others, like Alan Navarro, McFarland High School’s vice principal of discipline, believe that fostering ethics and responsibility is an ongoing process embedded in the daily classroom experience.