In my last post a couple of weeks ago I gave you my top ten money saving tips. It got me thinking about my time as a student in university and school and all the things I have learnt (and most often forgotten) over the years. The education system sent me out into the big-wide world with a head stuffed with theorems and formulas but when it came to moving out I found that a2+b2=c2 didn’t actually help a lot with day to day life. Politics? DIY?? Tax??? So in this weeks blog I share with you my ideas for things they should have taught us in school. Do you agree?
The nearest I got to this in school was making a torch from a milk bottle which, while fairly impressive, is not something I have ever had to replicate in day-to-day life. I can openly admit that I have never put up a shelf, cleaned the gutters, or even changed a plug and if I did I would be a serious risk to myself and those around me.
And, despite driving for 6 years I have absolutely no idea how to change a tire or jump-start a car, and I only recently learned that there was such a thing as radiator fluid, let alone that I should be topping it up.
I accept that maybe not all of you are quite as incapable as me, but I know I am not alone, so to grow into fully-functioning independent adults that don’t call an electrician (or our parents) every time a fuse blows, they should probably add some of this stuff to the curriculum.
I remember being taught a lot about cell osmosis and the human organs in biology class, and at the time I could have drawn you a significant diagram of a food chain. But I think they missed out some important lessons for teenagers such as “don’t shave there! It will grow back thicker” and “do not try to pierce your own body.”
But its not just the silly things they missed, what about the real facts about drugs, alcohol, depression and eating disorders. Not just the scientific names and descriptions of symptoms but some real advice and information. The father of late singer Amy Winehouse agrees and has set up a programme in her name that hopes to bring meaningful drug education to schools.
When I was 16 I could have done a quadratic equation and told you some trigonometry rules. Needless to say that knowledge fell out of my head almost instantly after leaving the exam hall. The most complex maths that I ever do now is to when I go to a foreign country and I’m constantly trying to convert the money from one to the other in my head. (Not such a problem in Europe but when you’re in Asia and £1 is 31,000 Vietnamese Dong things can get a bit more confusing. I think much more time should have been spent on mental maths, without pens, paper and calculators so that we can deal with these types of realistic situations…
I cannot remember ever having a lesson on modern politics. I had no idea until I was about 16 what the differences were between right and left wing politics. Even when I did reach voting age, I only had vague and generic ideas about the main principles and policies of the major parties and I still felt really under informed when I made my way to the ballot box. I’m sure most 15 and 16 year olds would find a class on modern politics pretty boring but surely it’s important that ‘us young people’ are properly informed before we start voting. If not, the majority of us will just end up regurgitating what we’ve heard from our parents, friends or some catchy tabloid article we read earlier that day.
Considering tax is something that all of us have to deal with I think very few of us really understand how it all works, council tax, capital gains tax, bedroom tax? What?
If nothing else, teaching about where our tax money goes might help soften the blow when that big chunk is taken out of the first paycheck.
Of course, when I was in school, social media was still in the relatively early stages of world domination. MSN chat and Myspace were the popular ones at the time. These days they should spent some time in school teaching young people about how to make the most of the internet while at the same time avoiding the numerous negative aspects. In addition to the important education about personal online safety, focus needs to be put on data security and information sharing. (Such as in this pilot scheme currently running in Welsh schools).
Most of us learn over time that a certain amount of restraint on social media is beneficial (especially when your colleages and family start ‘friending’ you) but this needs to be a mandatory subject, as sometimes the results can very be damaging – such as for this young person recently.
What gaping holes of practical knowledge did your education leave you with? Any funny stories to share?