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Most Americans Believe School Should Be More Practical

How to file taxes, managing your money, and even managing your mental well-being number among the top things Americans wish they had learned in school growing up, according to new research. The new revelation came from a survey of 2,000 Americans which found that many people thought their time in school could have been better spent learning more practical lessons. Also numbering among the top five skills we WISH we learned in school were how to negotiate, and a better understanding of how student debt and loans really work. The new survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of H&R Block, asked Americans about their schooling growing up and aimed to identify some skills that get thrown by the wayside in favor of traditional school subjects. Amazingly, the average American says they learned nearly half of their current job skills on the job as opposed to in a classroom. Not only that, 84% of Americans say that there are things they learned in school that they have never had to utilize in real life at all. In fact, the survey asked Americans which courses they’d rather take when given a practical choice and a traditional choice and here is how those results shook out:

  • When it comes to a class on tax preparation or a calculus class, only 13% of Americans said they’d rather learn calculus.
  • And when asked to choose between a class on how to do household repairs and an algebra class, only 17% picked algebra.
  • Incredibly, the average American estimates they’ve forgotten nearly half (40%) of everything they learned in school growing up and only actually use 37%.
  • The Pythagorean theorem, knowing that PI is 3.14, and the periodic table numbers among the top “useless” things Americans learned in school, along with the types of rocks and knowing all of the U.S. Presidents.
  • Nearly every American surveyed (89%) agrees that life would be a lot easier for them now had they learned more practical skills in high school, with the average American saying they don’t actually grasp “adult” life skills until the age of 29.
  • Over half of Americans (55%) say they currently file their taxes by themselves, but the vast majority of them fear they aren’t doing them as efficiently as they could be.
Top 10 Skills Americans Wish They Learned In School
1. Money management and budgeting   57%
2. How to properly do taxes   44%
3. How to manage emotional/mental wellbeing   42%
4. Understanding credit and student loans   39%
5. How to negotiate   39%
6. Time management   35%
7. Household repairs   34%
8. How to make conversation/personal relationship skills   33%
9. Car repair and maintenance   31%
10. How to find a job   30%
Top 10 Useless Things Americans Learned In School
1. Pythagorean theorem   48%
2. Knowing PI is 3.14   40%
3. Periodic table   40%
4. The types of rocks   37%
5. The difference between protons, neutrons, and electrons   37%
6. Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell   35%
7. Naming the presidents in order   35%
8. Osmosis   32%
9. How to make paper snowflakes   30%
10. Photosynthesis