Psychology should be required for middle and high-school students.


Psychology, when it’s offered at the high school level, is offered as an elective course — which means it’s not required to graduate.    Many, if not most, high schools, don’t even offer Psychology as an option.   It’s only offered at the larger high schools, and not usually until Junior or Senior year, after required courses in math, English, languages and history are fulfilled.    Abnormal psychology, which goes into more depth about mental disorders and includes personality disorders, isn’t usually offered until the college level, and only to those students who have chosen a psychology or sociology major.

I don’t understand this.  Knowledge about psychology is necessary for us to understand our own behaviors and those of our fellow humans.  It can help kids be able to detect red flags or signs of mental illness in others, including in our leaders.   In my way of thinking, psychology is a life skill and is so much more useful in our daily lives than things like algebra or trigonometry, which are rarely thought of again once a student graduates and only have practical use in the scientific or technical fields.   Do any of us in our 40s, 50s, or 60s actually remember how to do a proof in Geometry? Do any of us actually remember some of the dates we had to memorize in History or can reproduce the Table of the Elements without having to refer to outside sources?   Not that such knowledge doesn’t have value — it makes you seem smart or at least educated. But really, how are these things relevant to living a successful adult life unless you work in these fields or teach them yourself?

If Psychology were offered at the high school, or even at the middle school level, I think kids would be making better choices in their friendships, relationships, and even in their voting practices as they grow older.   They would know better what they are dealing with among the people they wind up going to school with, working with, and having to deal with day to day.

I think anti-bullying education should also be a part of a psychology program, especially for young middle school students, where bullying is at its most vicious and where kids are more vulnerable to the trauma caused by bullying than they are at the high school or college level when their sense of self is more developed.   Practical lessons in mindfulness or anger management could be adapted into a middle- or high-school curriculum as well.   I think all kids — not just kids with impulse or emotional problems — would benefit from such classes.  It would help them develop their emotional — not just their cognitive — intelligence.

We are now saddled with a president who is a diagnosed malignant narcissist (remotely diagnosed by actual psychiatrists, but it’s common knowledge now) and whose rash and impulsive actions are showing that he’s a greater threat than anyone could have imagined.   His cabinet picks aren’t much better.   I think if psychology (including abnormal psychology) had been a required course for kids, starting at the middle school level, as they reached voting age, they would reach adulthood with more emotional intelligence, and take into account the personality traits of the candidates and choose those who seemed more in touch with reality and more mentally sound, regardless of their political beliefs.