When you graduate from secondary school you can name 52 prepositions in the English language, recite theorems and algebra formulae and regurgitate passages from Shakespeare. You are intimately familiar with the Periodic Table of the elements, are adept at getting the budgets to balance and are an expert at French conjugation.
In short, you are a genius. You must be. Your teachers and parents keep telling you so.
However, despite being enormously and effectively educated, how many life skills have you learnt? Most schools are wonderfully proactive and really try their best to help the children in their care to become well rounded, capable, independent and self-sufficient citizens that are well able to cope beyond the confines of the school walls.
But sometimes all the best education in the world fails to prepare even the most open-minded youngster to cope in the big bad world. Sometimes the focus of the school curriculum is not on basic life skills and the lack of these means that even the very best degree will be of little use.
There are many things school won’t teach you and these are the very lessons you need in order to become the well-rounded individual you know you can be.
First lesson needs to be about time management skills. Does anyone ever attempt to teach children about how to balance school work, extracurricular activities, family life, social life and precious ‘me-time’ without burnout? I think we just expect them to be able to juggle everything as we do. But many can’t cope and have way too much on their plate. They need to learn what they can manage and what they can’t.
Another valuable lesson to be taught is how to spot the signs of a friend in trouble.
For some this comes naturally, for others not so much, but it would be great if everyone knew how to reach out to a friend who is raising concerns.
Many schools have done away with winners and losers and give every child a medal at sports day. They also give them lots and lots of opportunities to pass exams and get things right. Whether this method is right or wrong is immaterial really, as reality is totally different. In the real world there will always be times you succeed and times you fail and you better be able to deal with both.
If a child expects to be rewarded for merely turning up they are going to struggle in the workplace.
These days, our children are being born into a world of silent communication where texting, messaging and emailing are the norm. For this reason their personal communication skills including how to engage and connect with other people might need a little boosting also.
Without doubt there is a tremendous value in learning from experience and figuring it out as you go along and there are valuable lessons learnt in working through challenges as they are encountered. But it really doesn’t have to be that difficult. With a little grounding in the basics, the young adults let loose in the world are less likely to land themselves into trouble financially, socially, politically or otherwise.
If they were stranded would they know how to find water? Could they save a life with basic First Aid? Can they manage their budget? Do they know how to life heavy objects without damaging their back? And how is their map-reading ability without the use of their phones? All crucial life skills and yet ones they are unlikely to learn in between classes of French, Chemistry or Maths.
So it’s probably up to us as parents to fill in these gaps in their education… only problem is we have to learn them ourselves first.