This ‘Ask Reddit’ question What isn’t being taught in schools that should be? is going viral.
This was the most upvoted answer, getting over 3,000 upvotes:
Find a job
Buy a house
Buy a car
What laws there are
As evidenced by the thousands of comments and upvotes, both for the answer above and for the question, a lot of millennials agree that there is a problem with the education system we have now; specifically, what is being taught in school may be obsolete in today’s economy. School and education is still stuck in a pre-2008 mindset, where good-paying jobs for all skill levels were abundant and everything was less competitive and efficient. Obviously, that has all changed.
The Maslow’s hierarchy of needs stipulates that before you can indulge your worldly intellectual curiosities, you must first have food and shelter, and that requires knowing marketable skills, whether it be stock trading, investing, web design, coding, or STEM, etc. The landlord doesn’t care if you know Chinese history; he wants your check or you’re getting evicted. Neither does the electric or water company. But that doesn’t mean that millennials don’t care about History or disparage those subjects; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Based on my observation of social media voting patterns, there is a great deal of respect for people who peruse careers and hobbies where intellectualism takes precedence over making money. But, the thing is, the liberals arts can be pursued on one’s own time and leisure for free due to the information being readily online. Since there are only a finite number of hours of schooling and hands-on instruction, and teachers are being paid with taxpayer dollars, why not teach things that may have a greater ROI for students, that cannot be answered with a Wikipedia search?
But also, millennials see their baby boomers parents (as well as the headlines since 2008 of people losing everything, of being unemployed,) frittering away cash on useless purchases, and other bad financial decisions. Millennials, who are surprisingly savvy about personal finance, value self-sufficiency and financial independence, but schools typically don’t teach personal finance – things as debt, mortgages vs. renting, taxes, budgeting, credit scores, index funds vs. individual stocks vs. bonds, credit cards, or even how to balance a checkbook. That’s where the dissatisfaction with today’s educational system comes from – that fact schools are not teaching these pertinent, actionable skills.
Related to skills, the problem is schools teach skills (reading, writing, algebra, etc) that are merely ‘good enough’ to be functional and educated, but that alone won’t cut it in the hyper-competitive post-2008 economy. Even college skills are falling into the category of ‘good enough’. Unlike 100 years ago, there are too many people with these ‘good enough’ skills, depressing their value. Nowadays, to get a good job, you can’t just be ‘good enough’ – you must be exceptional. Average is over. You can’t just be a good writer; you must be Proust. You can’t just be good with numbers; you must be Neumann or Nash. Due to the limitations imposed by IQ and the Bell Curve, few will ever attain that level of mastery, which means that that everyone else has to settle for mediocre-paying jobs that they are intellectually overqualified for, ironically enough. It you’re smart, but not a super-genius, you’re often stuck with a job that can be performed by a high school graduate or less. For the 40% of the population with IQs between 100 and 125, that leaves low-tech entrepreneurship and gig jobs as alternatives to the the drudgery of low-paying, intellectually un-stimulating work. But schools don’t teach entrepreneurship or how to land gig jobs.
Some say the ‘HBD-sphere’ is too obsessed with IQ, but perhaps it seems that way only because IQ is so important. For certain fields, IQ gives one the capacity to succeed. Hard work will get you past the finish line, but a high IQ is still necessary to compete. In today’s competitive economy, IQ is becoming more and more important of a determinant of whether one succeeds or falls between the cracks. There are other factors, but IQ is still important.
Stock trading (buying and holding Facebook, Amazon, and Google stock), home ownership (especially in the Bay Area), STEM (coding apps), venture capital (investing in web 2.0 companies like Uber), and apps (web 2.0) is how people are getting rich in a post-2008 world. Schools don’t teach any of these things, but, again, the Bell Curve renders a lot of these aforementioned skills unattainable for many. To code a decent app generally requires a >125 IQ. Stock trading is hard and typically requires an above-average IQ to be successful, but buy and hold is easier if you choose the stocks I recommend. Venture capitalism is off-limits to most of the population, and as part of the post-2008 trend of bifurcation (which I discuss in the capitalism essay), unless you invest one of a dozen or so web 2.0 ‘unicorns’, VC is probably a waste of time and money. The VC game has changed from one that rewards investing in uncharted waters to one that rewards investing in things that are already large and successful like Snapchat and Uber.
Schools don’t set realistic expectations for students, instead filling them with false hope that abundance and good-paying jobs await upon graduation.
Times are also changing, as people shun the arts, which typically don’t pay well, for endeavors that do – such as stock trading, real estate, coding, and so on. This is driven by social factors (the celebritization of STEM) and economics (STEM pays better).