Death. Basketball. War. Now label those in order of importance. Prioritize them. While this order may change person by person, situation by situation, lately these lines seem blurred.

This past summer, I spent 16 days in the Dominican Republic on a service trip. While there, I went without Wi-Fi and cell service for a majority of the time. When I did pick up a slight signal, my notifications would quickly pop up and I would take a minute to scroll through my social media feeds. What I found during my few moments of peeking back into the “real world” was a CNN update and endless tweets and Instagrams informing me that Lebron James was officially leaving Miami. He had signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers. This piece of information, a piece of information that was not drastically altering any of our lives, seemed like the only link my friends in the Dominican Republic and I had to civilization. We felt like we knew what was going on in the world again.

When I returned home, I quickly learned that I actually had no idea what was going on in the “real world.” I learned there was a war that broke out in the Middle East. I learned that there was a fatal boat crash in Biscayne Bay. I felt even more out of touch being home than I had in the Dominican Republic and I couldn’t understand why. 

Why hadn’t my CNN notification informed me that my friends spending the summer in Israel were spending their days in bomb shelters? Why hadn’t my twitter feed informed me that the water I swim in was the scene of an accident that killed residents of my neighborhood? Don’t get me wrong, I’m as big a Lebron fan as the next person, but why was a basketball player consuming all the news when there were things going on in the world much more worthy of mention?

As I questioned society’s priorities, I began questioning the priorities society has set within high school education. As teenagers prepare to venture out into the world on their own, shouldn’t their priority be learning how to live and function in that world? I can tell you the formula for a five-paragraph FCAT essay and the Pythagorean Theorem, but I cannot tell you how to get a home mortgage. Why is English class spent reading 400-year-old poems rather than helping us how to interview for a job? Just as the news is sacrificing significant information for the sake of what people want to hear, education is sacrificing significant life skills for simple memorization.

Over the years, the news has taught me that what basketball team is going to be winning the next championship is more important than what country is currently being bombed. High school has taught me that writing a five-paragraph essay is more important than knowing how to fill out a tax return form. Today’s world has teenagers growing up in a controlled bubble, only letting in information that won’t disrupt their daily life and supplying them with skills that will help them pass the SAT. Maybe it isn’t teenagers who always need a priority check, but rather society.


Samantha Rosen is a senior at Miami Palmetto Senior High School in Pinecrest.