I heard someone talking, rather loudly, in a restaurant the other day about his belief that schools need to teach real skills to their children, like balancing a checkbook and getting a car loan. He expounded at some length, to the point that it made me start thinking about his logic, or lack of same.
I’ve heard this premise before-someone lamenting about the basic skills that they believe are lacking in children. But after listening to this guy I realized that the premise was based on the projection of his personal failings upon others. Maybe he couldn’t balance a checkbook, but that doesn’t mean that it needs to be a high school course, does it? Balancing a checkbook? Do we really need a teacher to teach that?
So, I did an experiment. I took my 15-year-old and made her sit down with me to learn how a checkbook works. About 1/2 hour later she could balance a checkbook. I have no teaching experience, by the way. Next, I explained the fundamentals of applying for a loan, what a bank looks for, how to maintain good credit, etc. Took about 20 minutes.
Now my kid knows how to apply for a loan and balance a checkbook. No teacher required.
It then struck me that I want a teacher to teach my kid the hard stuff, not the easy stuff that I can teach her. I want the teacher to teach my kid Biology, so that when she goes to the doctor and he prescribes a medicine or a treatment, she’ll understand why and won’t rely on articles in Self magazine for her medical advice.
I want the teacher to teach her Chemistry so that if she finds out that her cholesterol is too high, she won’t get suckered into buying garlic tablets and other useless cholesterol lowering snake-oil because that was the first ad that popped up when she searched for it on-line, and she won’t believe the anti-vaccination Nazis who are all over the web.
I want the teacher to teach her about History, so when she hears the controversy about rebel flags, racism or politics she can make an informed decision without having to revert to Facebook memes.
I want my kid to be taught the hard, boring stuff, so that as an adult she’ll make educated choices and know where to find accurate information, instead of relying on that mile-wide, inch-deep, shallow dive of the intellect called Google. She’ll understand how to vet the sourcing of information, rather than just look for something that she happens to agree with.
If you think that you need the school system to teach your kid the most fundamental requirements of living in modern society, maybe the problem isn’t the school system, maybe it’s you.