Sunday, May 22, 2011

things i wish someone taught me

random thoughts while on the train listening to the silly high school girls who know nothing of the real world yet. i was remembering my high school days and thinking that i knew a fair amount more about the real world then this generation seems to at that age. maybe that's just the vanity of getting older, we all like to fancy ourselves better then the newcomers. it did get me thinking about our education system though, and specifically about that most useless of classes: carreer and personal planning. the concept for this class is good. it's supposed to teach life skills and provide teenagers with a place and time to plan their futures with the guidance of a teacher or councellor. the reality is an abysmal failure. once in a while they have you do an aptitude test or write a crappy resume that nobody tells you how to improve. most of the time it's crap like abstinance-only sex ed or interpreting emotions from facial expressions (taught with smiley faces handdrawn and photcopied? have we not all been doing this FROM BIRTH? wouldn't photographs at least be more useful?). most of the time no one bothers to teach at all. it's 30-60 min where someone takes attendance, and then everyone sits around chatting or catching up on homework. plenty of teachers will let you just wander off once you've checked in. i think we could do a lot better for our teenagers. teach them things that will be needed in the real world that aren't covered under other classes. looking back at my formal education, there is precious little that has been of any practical use in the real world. perhaps we should talk to school boards and tell them what this curriculum should look like between grades 6 and 12. some of this could be covered in a better gym class (also pathetic). in no particular order, i think it should be:
-writing a resume that will get you an interview
-interviewing so you actually get a job
-writing and sticking to a simple budget
-cost effective grocery shopping for good nutrition and minimal waste
-what to look for when apartment hunting
-how to get along with landlords and neighbors
-communication and conflict resolution between friends, family, and partners
-simple cooking from scratch
-balancing your diet and creating a good relationship with your body
-finding exercise that you enjoy
-efficient and green house cleaning
-growing a vegetable garden including the importance of composting and other sustainable practices
-personal improvement and goal setting
-basic first aid
-how to pack light and travel cheep
-basics of how the canadian government works
-simple repairs to: clothes, cars, toilets, wooden items such as furniture or fences
-sorting out your priorities and values, making hard decisions
-painting a room
-cooking on a campfire
-simple computer troubleshooting
-basic self defense

more advanced life skills could be:
-intermediate first aid
-simple herbal medicine
-build a fence/shed/raised garden bed
-basic knitting and clothes making
-bicycle repair and use for cargo-carrying, etc
-simple pet first aid
-intermediate cooking from scratch

what else do you think we should ensure our kids know by the time they graduate? what do you wish you had been taught? what did you learn the hard way or still don't know that should have been taught in high school?


  1. Could I take some of those courses? :P The only ones I know of who do those things are homeschoolers.

    Just a note - the black on green is horribly hard for these aging eyes of mine to decipher. Others might agree.

  2. heh, i can't say i could teach all of those things, but i could teach the majority. i'm sure you could find someone in every city who could do the same. the majority of those things i figured out for myself the really hard way (i.e. making every possible mistake) and considering how much time is wasted in high schools (12 years of 'social studies' where we learned nothing but 'native peoples', the same 4 facts over and over. as if they were a zoo exhibit) and how little of what's taught is of any real use (when was the last time you did calculus while balancing your chequebook?) i think we should start either completely overhauling how teachers are trained, or scrap the formal teachers and just ask for functional adults in the community to step up for a semester at a time.

    thanks for the heads up. i just picked what i thought was pretty. i'll have a look at other colour options and see if i can find a combo that's more readable