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What’s the most important subject in High School? - featured image

What’s the most important subject in High School?

In this article, I'm going to give a bit of career advice to your kids.

High School2

Many of you are probably homeschooling, you are trying to ensure that your kids have the best possible future.

What kind of subjects should you encourage your kids to focus on?

Well, let's think about what we know about the future of the work, and work backward from there.

We do know for a fact that Australia and essentially all industrialised economies will further move to knowledge work away from the manufacturing type of work to the knowledge economies.

For example, in Australia for the last 50 years, half of the new jobs that we added to Australia required at least a university-level degree.

So, therefore, of course, education is King.

What's the most important subject in High School? Will your kids act on this advice?

Send your kids to Uni — that's a bit of reasonable career advice.

Of course, there are plenty of highly lucrative trade jobs — for example, a successful mechanical fitter will always earn more than a primary school teacher.

And, of course, you often hear about the plumber who takes home $200,000+ per year.

That trade has a secret trick up their sleeve — they are actually a small business owner.

They don't only earn money by working themselves, they also have 2, 3 or even more staff working for them, so that's the way for a tradie to multiply their income which is to be a tradesperson and a business owner at the same time.

But overall, the more highly educated you are, the more money you earn.

Wages education



Knowledge Society

Source: The New Daily

But what subjects should your kids be focused on?

What we know is that there will be more and more technology integrated into every single aspect of work, so surely the STEM subjects must include science, technology, engineering, and maths, which your kids may benefit from the most.

Well, I would argue the opposite!

Sure, you do need to have a basic knowledge of maths, science, and all these things in a world where these kinds of technologies become omnipresent.

But they will not differentiate you in any way from the other workers.

That makes sense if you think about it...

In the 1970s if you had any type of basic computer skills, that was enough to get you a really high-paying job.

Today, if you have basic computer skills, it buys you... nothing.

So, what will set you apart in the future if AI and robotics take over a larger share of your work tasks, i.e. they will be done by technology; then the rest of your work tasks that remain with you as an individual worker are interpersonal in nature.

That means the kind of skills that you want to encourage your kids to take even more now than ever before, are interpersonal in nature.

Because the technology will take of itself; your kids' employers will make sure that your kids are always up-to-date with technology.

But interpersonal skills, that's the stuff that will carry you throughout your whole career.

And there is no other subject that prepares you for the future of work better than "Theatre."

School Thetre

If you think about it, Theatre is the subject in High School that most closely resembles the real work environment, a real eco-system.

While there are actors on the stage, other kids teach themselves how to do the lighting, others learn audio; somebody builds the stage, sets or creates tickets and flyers, or builds social media campaigns.

Other kids set up the chairs, sell the drinks, and so on.

There is an awful lot of what goes into the theatre production and much of it resembles the real work environment — much more than a maths class which is intellectually important, but is just intellectual work and doesn't resemble the real world.

Theatre is closer to reality, and in the future of work where we will interact more with other people or will be forced to make a point in front of clients, colleagues, the board, the boss, and the hiring committee, then the theatre is important simply because it takes away the fear of being on stage.

That is an invaluable lesson you can teach your kids; by nudging them to be a part of theatre class.


The problem during lockdown is that this super crucial skill that can only be taught through real-life experience is unavailable to kids.

And that is a massive burden that lies on the young generation and it's hard to play catch-up for this.

So if your kids went through the later years of high school during the Covid lockdown encourage them to do a bit of theatre during uni because once they are out of the uni they are unlikely to get back to the theatre.

Once you leave formal education, once you enter the workforce and start a family, you are very unlikely to pick a hobby as time-consuming as acting.

High school is the ideal time to join amateur theatre. Even though it feels like the opposite, you have plenty of time on your hands.

So while you are young and have time with your hands this is the best time of your life to actually engage in this skill.


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About Simon Kuestenmacher is one of Australia’s leading demographers, co-founder of The Demographics Group, a regular media commentator, a columnist for the Australian and one of the world’s Top 50 Influencers in Data Science.

Superb, I am 100% agree with you about Theatre. I did notice change of great uplift on my daughter's personality. In my personal view Philosophy, Religion, History, Geography & politics must be the basic foundation of science, maths and technolog ...Read full version

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