In early 2011, Seth Godin asked, What’s high school for? It was a prescient challenge to the status quo, that 8 years later is more relevant than ever. Rote learning, standardized testing, and the suppression of critical thinking, do not serve our nations well.
He suggested then that high school should teach these life skills instead:
How to focus intently on a problem until it’s solved.
The benefit of postponing short-term satisfaction in exchange for long-term success.
How to read critically.
The power of being able to lead groups of peers without receiving clear delegated authority.
An understanding of the extraordinary power of the scientific method, in just about any situation or endeavor.
How to persuasively present ideas in multiple forms, especially in writing and before a group.
Project management. Self-management and the management of ideas, projects and people.
Personal finance. Understanding the truth about money and debt and leverage.
An insatiable desire (and the ability) to learn more. Forever.
Most of all, the self-reliance that comes from understanding that relentless hard work can be applied to solve problems worth solving.
This is clearly a complex issue. Search the internets for "education system failing our children" and you'll find hundreds of opinion pieces. Perhaps the place to start then is not in schools, but at home, where children learn the most deeply ingrained beliefs and habits. Godin's list seems like an excellent place to start.