When I was young, I remember hearing debates among adults about whether high school students should take more “practical” courses instead of so many academic courses. The reasoning was that these practical courses would do a better job of preparing students to make a living.
I came across some old papers from high school that contained course descriptions. One thing that struck me is that the academic courses such as algebra and literature haven’t changed much over the years. But, many of the practical courses are now completely obsolete.
Here are abbreviated versions of a couple of funny ones:
Business Machines II 511:
Students will learn to operate mechanical and electronic adding machines and calculators, and spirit and ink duplicators.
Steno IV 531:
Students will increase their stenographic skill to take dictation at 100 words per minute and to transcribe it accurately using a typewriter.
This doesn’t prove one way or another whether students should take more practical courses, but it does illustrate how utterly useless some skills become. In my youth, teaching cursive writing was central in primary years, but some schools don’t teach it at all now.