With Finley starting school in September I’ve been thinking alot more about the true value of academic education and what life skills we should be teaching our kids. I gained a lot from school in an academic sense. I loved History and Science and even Geography. I got good grades and enjoyed the majority of my school years. I passed exams, paid attention and did my homework. I was a good student and to this day can still remember specific details about historical events and biological processes.
However I can’t help but think that what I took away with me into my adult life was all much more theory and philosophy, than anything practical. Whilst I knew a lot and had the knowledge to pass a lot of exams, I was seriously lacking in some basic life skills by the age of eighteen. I think I could and should have been better equipped for real life, just normal every day – get your shit together life.
So although Finley’s school life is a long road ahead, it’s got me thinking. There are certain things we should be teaching our kids (at home and at school) that are more important than academic studies. Constructive things, everyday useful things – things that every kid should know how to do or what they mean by a certain age. You know basic life skills…
1. How the political system in your country really works
Until I started to take an interest in what was going on around me, in my early twenties lets say. I had no idea how our political system worked. I mean, I knew we were a democracy and we voted for either the guys in the blue ties or the red ties or the yellow ties. I knew that most people hated the blue guys because of Thatcher and there was something called New Labour but I didn’t really get it all. I had to teach myself about my local MP’s, the House of Commons and what the Government really gets up to.
2. Why its important to vote
Not voting is never an acceptable answer in my book. Not voting is irresponsible and can unjustly sway results. Apparently 90 million eligible people didn’t show up to vote in America last November and around 13 million didn’t turn out for the Brexit vote here. That’s just madness, think how different things could have been if people had been educated to understand how their vote does actually make a difference.
3. How to prepare a couple of basic meals – real ones from scratch not microwave ones
All I could cook at eighteen from ‘scratch’ was Tuna Pasta Bake. It’s still one of my staples now. Enough said.
4. What APR is
Christ knows if someone had actually sat me down and explained to me in a very practical sense what APR meant, I would have saved a lot of money and stress. Telling kids not to get credit cards and not to get into debt is not the answer. We live in a World where everybody is conditioned to think they can have it all. We should teach our kids how to realistically deal with that lie and educate them on how to balance their expectations with reality.
5. How a mortgage works
I didn’t really understand how a mortgage worked until I didn’t have one anymore. The best advice I will give my son on this is, not to tie yourself down financially at a young age. Once you get a mortgage and ‘own’ a home, that’s it everything – forever will revolve around that. You will miss out on so much and your life will become far less flexible. You wont be able to just move towns or move jobs or travel on a whim. Nothing is guaranteed in life, so don’t box yourself in too early.
6. How to wrap a present properly – like all fancy and shit
Still can’t, never will.
7. How to change a tyre
I think I could?
8. How to deal with a serious wound that just keeps bleeding
Come on everyone needs to know this, even if you are like 5 years old. Apply pressure, elevate, call Ambulance.
9. How to protect yourself from an early death
Wear sunscreen, don’t fucking smoke, alcohol is bad. I’m all for showing kids pictures to demonstrate these facts.
*not to young children like my son (3), I mean like 15 year olds*
10. That the way you look will matter less and less to you and everyone else as time goes by. So you best find the value in yourself from another source
Looks fade bitches and they fade pretty quick. You’ve got more life years being a bit dumpy and wrinkly than you have being youthful and gorgeous. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy being pretty, just make sure you find value in yourself from other places than just the way you look.