Three Old-Fashioned Classes I Wish Would Return to High School

On Saturday, I ordered a new couch. The salesman had to enter the specifications for the couch into his computer. He seemed like a knowledgeable enough fellow–probably early 50s and knew a lot about furniture. But, he used two fingers to type all the information into his computer. 

That made me start thinking back to my days in high school and thinking in the present about what classes my children take and I realized that there are three classes that everyone should take, but many schools don’t even offer. Educators, we HR types would be thrilled if people came to work with these skills–even though some don’t seem work-related.


Back in the dark ages, when I was in high school, I took type classes. We learned to type on actual typewriters (although they did have built-in correction tape to fix mistakes, but only small ones). We learned how to place our fingers on the correct keys (sometimes we typed with our hands covered), and to properly format business letters.

To keep reading, click here: Three Old-Fashioned Classes I Wish Would Return to High School

What classes would you like to see added to the curriculum?

And yes, this article ran before, but it’s still a good question!

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21 thoughts on “Three Old-Fashioned Classes I Wish Would Return to High School

  1. I agree with teaching typing and basic business writing. I am now receiving resumes using “text speak”. Maybe our company is old-fashioned, but starting a business email with “How r u?” is unacceptable. I won’t respond when I get the inquiry “r u hiring”.

  2. I agree with all these suggestions. I’m an old lady, so when I took typing, it was on manual typewriters and without correction tape. We used carbon paper to make copies — it was also before copy machines — and, if you made a mistake, you would have to erase the error on the carbon copy, stick a piece of paper between the carbon paper and the carbon copy, erase the error on the original, remove the piece of paper separating the carbon paper from the carbon copy, then type the correct character over the erasure. This laborious correction process motivated us to strive for accuracy. I learned how to type 70 words per minute, with an acceptable error rate. As our Typing teacher used to say: “The trick is to avoid making that first error!” And, now that we’re all typing on computers, errors are not a problem anyway, since they’re so easily corrected. I went on to 8 years of formal education after high school and 40+ years (thus far) of professional employment after that, and can — truthfully — say that typing is the most useful skill I ever acquired. Typing, home economics and shop class — as well as community service — should be mandatory in order to receive a high school diploma.

  3. How about simply making it once again a requirement to graduate high school that the student be able correctly to read, write, and speak standard English, and understand enough math to work out the payments on a mortgage?

    The primary reason this has become an issue is that well-meaning fools in positions of power have decided it is “racism” to demand these skills in the business world if the job applicant in question belongs to certain minority groups. In reality it is racist — and dumbs down our society — NOT to require them of everybody.

  4. Basic auto maintenance. Check pressure/change a tire. Check/change your oil. Top off fluids. Change your windshield wipers. Even if you don’t own a car you may find yourself in a situation where someone needs to change a flat.

    Being a touch typist means I’m always employable somewhere, even if it’s just data entry.

  5. Typing is taught in middle school…. No need to revisit in high school.

    Cursive is useless, glad they are getting rid of it.

    1. How does one read cursive fonts or fancy calligraphy without cursive?
      What happens if the power goes out one day and you actually have to leave someone a handwritten note? Are you going to write it out long hand? That would take forever.

      1. Printing is more legible than cursive in about 99.999% of all cases. Printing should be taught (and should be taught like in a ham radio class, with specific motions taught for each letter, and if the instructor can’t read it, you fail), but cursive isn’t really particularly useful these days in the adult world.

        1. As nostalgic as I am, I agree that cursive is a relic. Focus on proper writing in standard “block” letters. I don’t even write in cursive anymore. Make it one of those optional classes. I’d rather see basic macro and micro economics along with personal finance taught as standard.

      2. Handwriting matters: does cursive matter?
        Research shows: legible cursive waverages no faster than printed handwriting of equal/greater legibility. Highest speed and legibility in handwriting belong to those who join the most easily joined letter-combinations, leaving the rest unjoined, with print-like shapes for letters whose printed and cursive shapes disagree.

        Simply _reading cursive can be taught in 30-60 minutes — even to five- or six-year-olds, once they read print.

        Educated adults quit cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers were surveyed at a conference hosted by Zaner-Bloser, a cursive publisher. Only 37% wrote cursive; another 8% printed. Most (55%) wrote with some elements resembling print-writing, others resembling cursive.
        . When most handwriting teachers don’t use cursive, why mandate it?

        Cursive’s cheerleaders allege (sometimes in sworn testimony before legislatures) that cursive cures/prevents dyslexia, or makes you pleasant/ graceful/intelligent, or adds brain cells, or teaches etiquette and patriotism, or confers numerous other blessings which are no more prevalent among cursive users than among the rest of us. Claiming research support, they cite studies that invariably prove to have been misquoted/otherwise misrepresented by the claimant.

        What about signatures? Brace yourself: cursive signatures have no special legal validity over other kinds. (Ask any attorney!)
         Questioned document examiners find the least forgeable signatures are the plainest. Most cursive signatures are loose scrawls: the rest are fairly complicated: making a forger’s life easy.
        All handwriting, not just cursive, is individual: just as all handwriting involves fine motor skills. That’s how schoolteachers immediately identify (from print-writing on unsigned work) which of 25 or 30 first-graders was responsible.
        Mandating cursive to save handwriting resembles mandating stovepipe hats and crinolines to preserve the art of tailoring.

        Kate Gladstone
        DIRECTOR, World Handwriting Contest

  6. Make them available to all kids. In my school it was forbidden for girls to take shop and boys to take home ec.

  7. What is needed is an upgraded version of these types of classes, which will show the need to write correctly in standard English–(called composition writing back in the day), plus show how basic math is needed in everyday life. The shop class covers more than learning woodwork and how to know what is under a car hood, it also addresses how to use a basic screwdriver and hammer, and how to know if a person does the job right, when hiring a contractor. The other point not mentioned is the fact that these types of jobs open up career area paths into good-paying jobs (blue-collar) for those students who can’t really succeed in the average classroom setting and college doesn’t appeal to them, This will give them a positive going forward in life.

  8. My mother taught me to check tyre pressures and oil and how to change a wheel, how to put hooks into the living room wall and how to change a tap washer. She also taught me how to solder and what resistor codes are but those are maybe not universally required skills.
    What are the skills schools should be teaching and what should parents be teaching? Sometimes it seems that people think schools should be doing everything.

  9. I’m wondering how many of the above people require college degrees from their job applicants. If you are focused on being accepted to college, there’s no time for these classes.

  10. Yes, and…I took typing, home ec., and woodshop in junior high, and I agree they’ve been incredibly valuable in my career and in my personal life. But I also know that overloading testing requirements and asking schools/teachers to deal with every other social issue we don’t want to deal with directly has made hard decisions about curriculum necessary.

  11. Typing is the only class I took in high school that I use much at all as an adult.

    (And the only reason I took it was because I had to have a “manual arts” credit to graduate, and the only other class open in that time slot was a welding class that, the previous semester, had welded the shop door shut – from the inside. I didn’t want to be in that class.)

    1. I just interviewed Byron Reese, a futurist, for my company’s blog. He talks about the half life of a job and says that the only class he took in high school that is still relevant today was typing.

  12. I think that the teaching of English in high school should be broadened to include technical and business writing. In high school, we read novels, plays, and poetry and then wrote essays. It would have been better to also learn about writing in business situations: memos, business reports, and scientific reports. Even though I was not that interested in reading and writing about novels, I later became a technical editor in scientific fields after completing a few university extension courses in technical writing and copyediting.

  13. My mother made me take typing back in 1960 and I think I was the only boy in the class. And my grade school had shop complete with power tools. For grade school. You can tell this was a few years ago.
    I’m really glad I learned how to type and shop kindled a love for making things I still have.

  14. I fully agree, although the schools in our area (rural NW Ohio) are getting on board. A few years ago, the owner of our manufacturing company realized that since schools and colleges weren’t producing fully employable graduates, we started training programs in the company, which are now being replicated in other areas. We have a high school training program that exposes juniors and seniors to all departments in our machining & automation divisions. We also have apprenticeships and internal development. We are now working with educational facilities to make sure they are training on the right equipment, since they are now all looking at maker spaces (replacing shop class) and other innovative education. Starting them out in middle school, then advancing into high school seems to be just the ticket.
    Home Ec is now called Life Skills and is teaching the basic skills needed in adult life.

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