With September now upon us, thoughts have transitioned from swimsuits and summer to sweaters and school days.

With school comes learning the usual subjects, including what we often referred to phonetically as the “3 Rs” – reading, writing and arithmetic. Many other subjects are taught, of course.

We found ourselves asking each other, “What subject(s) do you wish were taught in school when you were there?”

As I (Lynn) thought about it, one of the most important subjects they could teach is "How to Love." Some of the different types of love are brotherly, romantic, and agape love, which is the highest form of love for God and humans.

In his best-selling, timeless book, "The Art of Loving," Erich Fromm elaborates on the different facets of love and how to love. He feels the inability to love has contributed to the disintegration of society. As people do love each other and show it, there would be less conflict, and more respect, honesty and other positive values that go along with caring. By treating each other in appropriate loving ways, there would be fewer problems in the world. Also, these classes could be offered to parents and teachers so they could provide supportive environments that promote good relationships.

When I (Doug) heard Lynn’s answer, I have to say that my answer is not as altruistic as hers. I mentioned things like time management and money management skills. Time management would help reduce procrastination and improve productivity. Think of all the things that we could get done if we just prioritized tasks, maintained focus and took action, instead of waiting. Learning money management basics at a young age would help with knowing how to budget, as well as learning about investing and what Albert Einstein called “the Eighth Wonder of the World” — compound interest.

Schools are now including more classes on “life skills” and more of these types of subjects could be beneficial. When we did a Google search on “What subject should have been taught in schools,” we found 218 million results for it!

There were different lists but here are some common themes.

  • Mental health: Physical education is required in many schools, but more needs to be taught about how to avoid and deal with depression, stress, anxiety and addictions.
  • Survival skills: Basics on how to build a fire, find water, find shelter, first aid skills and self-defense — because you never know when mother nature, or other factors, could cause an emergency.
  • Negotiation skills: These are helpful in a variety of situations in business and family.
  • How to apply for and interview for a job: Include how to explore your best career options, prepare a resume and prepare for a job interview.

Next, we went to Lake Ann Park and talked to Dewayne Bontrager. We asked him what subject he thought should be taught in schools that’s not often taught. He said, “I would have to say that, for me, would be financial planning. Coming out of school in my day, and even to this day, I still don’t think they cover it as they should. Financial planning would have helped me to prepare myself for going out into the real world.”

We commented that financial planning’s a subject that could benefit everyone. Dewayne added, “Absolutely! You see all the people in credit card debt. If (only) they were just educated in school to not get into credit card debt, the ramifications of it and how quickly it can get thrown out of proportion. I think if they would educate people, show some real world examples and teach them how to get a checking account, it would be nice. We didn’t get any of that. That would be my No. 1 thing (to include in school) — financial planning. 

What about you? What subjects do you wish were taught in school? Maybe there are some things you feel you missed. Well, it’s never too late to keep learning. Fortunately, today there are many options for learning. For us, the learning never stops. With the Internet, it’s easy to get involved learning one interesting thing that leads to another and soon learning involves all sorts of exciting subjects.

We encourage you to pursue the subjects you want to learn by going back to school, community education or even classes online. You could also hire a teacher or mentor. We would enjoy hearing what subjects are important to you and how you took action to get the learning you desire.

Chanhassen residents, Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of The Balance Center. Doug and Lynn can be contacted at More information and videos at


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