I mean, clearly they do a good job of preparing us for standardized testing - which is super important when you're an accountant or middle manager or whatever - but they don't do much for anything else.
When you hit college you might be lucky enough to receive training specific to your field (hi, pre-Pharm!) but as countless others have doubtless observed before me, college teaches you to learn. It increases your capacity to figure stuff out and type things into Wikipedia and Google. That's a good skill to have when you're trying to figure out how to put together a mail merge in Word. You have to google that shit.
Unfortunately, this "teaching to learn" thing leaves people (me) totally floundering in other areas. I'm sure eliminating Shop from high school was an awesome thing that cut the number of severed fingers received on campus in half (joke![?]). But now there's a big knowledge-void in my life.
Sometimes, you find that you aren't at work. This might be on a weekend, or a weekday evening. Sometimes it's even a week day but that's such a rare event as to hardly bear mention.
Anyway you're there, not at work, and not needing to use Excel or Powerpoint for anything. Not even electively.
Surprise! There's a list of other things that you're supposed to do and suddenly you're adrift. I have to broom the floor? With what? Why does this sweeping thing look so much like a mop? Now your kitchen (or wherever you keep your non-porous floors) is sitting under a quarter inch of soapy standing water and your mop is jammed in the toilet. There's probably also blood everywhere. No one survives.
Where's the mopping class? Or the "keep your house clean enough that the bugs don't take over" class? How about "don't cook that chicken, stupid, because it's three inches thick and will take four hours to become edible." By the way, if you have an 8 oz. chicken breast you should butterfly that shit 'cause it'll cook up in like six minutes flat.
Don't vaccuum up that string of pearls! It'll wreck your shit. If you hold the hammer that way, you're gonna end up like that guy in Casino who gets his hand smashed with a hammer! Just wear some fucking safety goggles because one of those rabbits you hit with the mower is going to come out fast and in bits!
No one teaches us these things. So you spend half of your time learning trial-by-fire style. Did you almost just now lose an eye because you made a rookie error with a drill press? Lesson learned! Or perhaps you're momentarily gifted with foresight. You think, "I don't actually know what all of these cleaners under the sink do..." And then you have to go online! You are using this blessed knowledge of learning to Google (or Bing, if you're a dick) "how to clean a sink". And it turns out you were doing it wrong and at no point does it involve one of those gimp masks with the toilet brush attachment.
I fully understand the concept of subserviance and the like, dom/sub thing that's implicit with those masks... But I think it takes a very, very specific set of people to
enjoy wearing the mask and using it
enjoy watching someone wear the mask and use it.
The day I pick up a toilet brush and think "this is hot" is the day that I need to check into some kind of asylum, Final Destination 2 style.
I guess when I say that school has done a shitty job of preparing us (me) for life I may have been overstating my point a bit. They don't teach you how to chop a mortise and tenon with a chisel because they know you can "pick up a book" (internet) and learn how. And they don't teach you how to bake a cake (Protip: remove eggs from their shells first for best results) because they figure you'll either fuck it up once and learn from it or read up on it beforehand.
But it still seems a little dismal. If the point was just to be able to research stuff then we'd get a business card with "Google" on the front and "Fuckin', Google" on the back when we turn five and that would be that. We're tought physics and grammar n' shit so we can kind of get a head start on useful skills that may take a long time to perfect. Or even do passably.
So maybe something like a head start on "living life outside of academia and work" or "feeding yourself and others" might still be worth it.
A final thought:
Recess is gone. Now if someone wants to get good at throwing handfuls of gravel at little children they're going to have to look it up online. Or learn by doing (throw straight, not up in the air! bigger handfuls! learn the pattern of the teacher's gaze!) I grew up in the 15 minute recess era and posters around my neighborhood all speak to how well I am able to throw gravel at little children to this very day.
I think I just wish I had a class that would have tought me how to hammer a nail without constantly bending that shit.