I learned a lot in school. I learned what an isosceles triangle is, I learned about the anatomy of a human cell, and I learned about all the flaws of the major religions of the world. I learned about Franz Ferdinand (the duke not the band), I learned how to play the recorder, and I learned I could wiggle a slinky to look like sound waves.
Do you know what I didn’t learn? I didn’t learn how to fill in a tax form (something I discovered today after I received a letter telling me I owe the British government over a thousand pounds having missed out a tick box). I didn’t learn how to budget a small family income to feed and clothe us. I didn’t learn how to change a child’s nappy or treat nappy rash.
I don’t remember most of what I learned in school. I can remember all the lyrics to Shake Your Tail from My Little Pony but I’ll be damned if I can tell you what Franz Ferdinand was up to when he was killed or how that caused a war. I can’t remember what kind of triangle and isosceles is, I still don’t understand why people like the different religions, and I’ve not a clue how to play Three Blind Mice on a recorder.
Sure, these things will be useful to some of us. But not all. But tax returns? Budgeting? Nappies? These are things I have HAD to learn about since I became an adult. These are things almost all of us should have learned about.
I read an article in the Independent today which really hit home how much we should be taught in school but aren’t. How many huge and significant things happen in adulthood that education just doesn’t prepare us for. Kashmira Gander wrote about a study into the numbers of women who regret having children. Women who simply were not prepared for the realities of motherhood.
Indeed, one look at the Facebook Page “I Regret Having Children” will tell you how prevalent and traumatic this issue is. Post after post from women who sacrificed their life to something they didn’t understand.
I’ve spoken and written before about how I don’t believe in pressuring or shaming people into having children. This is not a life choice for everyone. It is insanely tiring. And whilst I don’t believe we can ever FULLY be prepared for what we’re entering into, I do know this. We could be MORE prepared.
School is filled with generations of people who have been there. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, all qualified to teach us about all kinds of fascinating things, and all filled with experience of raising the next generation; us. So why aren’t we being taught? Why aren’t we learning different parenting techniques? Why aren’t we learning about sleep deprivation, about developmental stages, about baby first aid, and about how to treat croup? Why aren’t we learning about why children have tantrums, how to handle a toddler meltdown and about post natal depression? Why is education about children limited to how not to have one?
We cram so much pressure onto kids to learn things that will get them passed exams and into university. But is that all school is now? Are we forgetting life? Are we saying that school is not the place to learn about how to live as an adult? Is it all angles and bunson burners and the appropriate use of an apostrophe? (Another thing I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten).
It shouldn’t be.
Applying for loans, writing a will, contacting a divorce lawyer. Cooking the right amount of pasta, fixing a broken mug, unclogging a drain. Applying for tax credits, basic CPR, raising and caring for the entire next generation of our species…
Teach us. Please teach us.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame teachers for this for a second. Not one micro second. Teachers are some of the most amazing people in the world and they work their butts off to teach our children all the things they need to know according to the government.
I’m saying make changes to the system. Create a new class. Put less emphasis on the none essential and some how make room for the essential. The “How To Be An Adult” class. Because being an adult is essential learning, because whilst we won’t all be philosophers or mathematicians, we will all be adults!
Lets have no more panicked phone calls from mothers begging the man on the phone to help them because they filled their forms out wrongly. And no more families getting into debt because they don’t understand budgeting and bills. And please, no more children born to women who wish they hadn’t been. No more women struggling with the intense pressure of parenthood who didn’t realise it wasn’t all sitting around getting your nails done whilst your children play. No more women breaking under the pressure of post natal depression because nobody warned them just how hard it really is.
Change the system. Let teachers teach essential life skills.
If you agree or disagree I’d love to hear from you. All my contact information is available at http://www.jjbarnes.co.uk and there you can find links to my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You’ll also find the podcasts I work on, links to where you can buy my books, and to Patreon where you can subscribe to support the work I do for free, and also access additional content.