Please give a warm welcome to Christopher Drew, a wonderful Via Vita supporter & parent to 2 of our students, as our guest blogger this week! He shares an interesting perspective about Life Skills Education and his thoughts on going 'back to basics' . We are thrilled to have his thought-provoking words hit the blog this week. Enjoy the read!
Think about your day to day life. What skills do you need to make each day work? Now think about the skills you were formally taught. Do these two lists line up? Mine don’t. Well that’s not entirely true. My professional life, and my post-secondary education match pretty well. I took training for the line of work I am now currently in.
But what about the rest of my life? What about everything that I need to do at home to make my life work? What about the budget that I have had to learn to manage, or the food that I have had to learn to prepare, or the food labels that I have had to learn to read, or the basic repair work that my home, car, and clothing need? When did I learn those skills? The short answer is I didn’t, at least not formally.
What did I learn formally in elementary and secondary school? I learned to compare and contrast light and darkness in poems. I learned the Pythagorean theorem. I learned to label each cloud by its scientific name. Now don’t get my wrong I am not echoing the kid in the class who looks at their teacher and says ‘when am I ever going to need to know that?’ Because there are many people in the world who do many different and important things built on a foundation of learning that .
I am pro science, math and literacy. These are complex skills that take a long time to learn. At thirteen, I simply didn’t know what specialized education I would need to know later in life. I am grateful that every year teachers answer the question; ‘when am I ever going to need to know this?’ with a patient and very truthful, ‘you never know what you are going to need to know’.
However, I would say that there are a number of things that we know we need to know that so very rarely get taught. Let’s call these things basic life skills. Skills like cooking, gardening, sewing, repairing and budging. Actually let’s not call them that for the moment. Because I think that understates the important role these skills can have, not just in our lives, but throughout our entire world.
We know as a society that we face a number of daunting challenges. National obesity levels, concerns over the care of the environment, and massive crippling household debt are just to name a few. These problems seem so complex and so beyond solving. But one of the simplest and most effective ways to tackle all of these problems simultaneously is by learning to grow and prepare local food. By simply growing food in my own garden I am eating better, cooking better, getting exercise, decreasing my carbon footprint, and saving money.
Teaching basic life skills may seem like a return to something old, and in a way it is. But teaching basic life skills is, in my opinion, critical for anyone who values learning in today's fast-pace world. I don’t know if my children will go on to become authors, or scientists, or doctors, or store clerks, or call centre employees, or any of a million other possible and valuable roles we have in society. And as such I don’t know what specialized education they will one day need. But I do know they are going to need to be healthy. I do know that they are going to need to eat. I do know that they are going to need to learn how to manage money. We often talk about wanting to make sure our kids know the basics, reading, writing and arithmetic. I am glad we have started to re-think what some of those basics might actually be.
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