Meme: What You Won’t Learn in High School (Upper-Intermediate Lesson Plan)

Download the High School ESL lesson plan here: Meme-HighSchool-UppIntermediate-20062012.doc

High School Lesson Plan (ESL): Upper-Intermediate

An American high school

High School Lesson Plan (ESL): Warm-up (Pair Work)

  1. What are your fondest (best) memories of high school? What regrets do you have?
  2. What classifications of students existed in your high school (e.g. nerds, athletes, etc.)? Which were you part of?
  3. How would you compare your high school generation to today’s generation of teenagers?

Meme: 11 Things Kids Will Not Learn in School

(Background: A list has recently spread around the Internet entitled “11 Things Kids Will Not Learn in School.” The list has been incorrectly attributed to Bill Gates, who supposedly read it at lecture to high school students. Online sources reveal that the list is a hoax: it originated in 1996 from a different author. Nevertheless, the list provides some interesting food for thought. It is given below in its entirety.)

Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a high school about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept sets them up for failure in the real world.

  • Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it!
  • Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
  • Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice president with a car phone until you earn both.
  • Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
  • Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
  • Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault; so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
  • Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
  • Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
  • Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you “FIND YOURSELF”. Do that on your own time.
  • Rule 10: Television and video games are NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
  • Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.” (420 words)

High School Lesson Plan (ESL): Follow-Up Questions

  1. Read the list again to yourself. Mark which rules you agree or disagree with. When finished, discuss your opinion of each piece of advice with your class.
  2. The list describes today’s youth as “kids with no concept of reality.” What do you think of this?
  3. True or False: The list was actually written in 1996.
  4. Idiom: What does it mean if something is beneath your dignity?

High School Lesson Plan (ESL): Vocabulary Matching

Match the words with their meaning as used in the news lesson.
attribute (verb)
politically correct
whine (verb)
delouse (verb)
bear a resemblance (phr. verb)
  • meme – an image or video that is shared online …
  • attribute – regard sth as being caused by sb or sth
  • hoax – a funny or harmful trick or joke
  • politically correct – worded in a way taht does not harm the audience
  • self-esteem – confidence in one’s own abilities
  • dignity – a sense of pride in one’s self
  • whine – complain in an annoying voice
  • parasite – an organism that lives off another organism
  • delouse – clean a person or animal of life or other insects living on it
  • bear a resemblance – look similar
  • nerd – a person who lacks social skills and studies too much.

High School Lesson Plan (ESL): Connect the below idea(s) to make a sentence.

government / uprising
favorite / meme
attribute / success
hoax / bomb
whine / politically correct
self-esteem / children
beneath / dignity
delouse / parasite
bear resemblance / reality
nerd / future

High School Lesson Plan (ESL): Debate: The Case of Lynden Dorval (Pair Work)

Ross Sheppard High School in Edmonton, Canada, has a `no zero’ policy. If a student does not do an assignment, the teacher must try to arrange with the student for the assignment to be completed later. If that method fails, the student gets a code of “not completed” on his/her school record instead of a zero.

In early June, physics teacher Lynden Dorval was fired from the school for giving zeros to students who did not complete assignments.


Student A: You agree with the decision to fire Lynden Dorval. Think of reasons to support your position. (One reason given by the school: “just giving students a zero does not help them learn anything.”) Think of other reasons. You will start the debate when ready.

Student B: You disagree with the decision to fire Lynden Dorval. Think of reasons to support your argument. Your partner will start the debate when ready.

High School ESL Lesson Plan: Your Speech

Prepare a speech for a high school graduating class. Give them advice that will help them in the future.
Option1: Write the speech as homework and then present it in your next class.
Option2: Take 3-5 minutes to prepare your speech in point form and then present it to your class today.

High School Lesson Plan (ESL): Discussion Questions

  1. What is a chain letter? Do you send or receive them?
  2. Do you feel that high school adequately prepares people for `real life’? Why or why not?
  3. What is the purpose of high school?
  4. Is “real life” as hard as the author of the list suggests?
  5. Idiom: “Life is what you make it.” –> What do you think of this idea?

High School ESL Lesson plan copyright Matthew Barton of

English Current recommends Grammarly as a learning tool to reduce English mistakes. If you found this page helpful, consider a donation to our hosting bill to show your support!

3 comments on “Meme: What You Won’t Learn in High School (Upper-Intermediate Lesson Plan)

  1. emily (Posted on 11-5-2013 at 20:48) Reply

    write down the rules so that you can remember the rules at school

  2. JOSEPH (Posted on 6-15-2017 at 05:59) Reply


  3. Anonymous (Posted on 1-27-2018 at 23:09) Reply

    Thank you, such an interesting article for my class :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.