“Adulting” or Teaching Kids to Be Adults
You’ve probably heard the term “adulting” being thrown around by those from my generation (gen-Y, not millennial, thank you very much) whenever we accomplish something that seems like it should be normal behavior for someone our age. There’s even a book and blog on the topic. But whether or not you like the term, it is a real feeling that comes from the fear of not being good enough or responsible enough at your/our age for appropriate amounts of time, mainly because you feel as though no one has taught you how.
Life is hard, and there is no manual on how to get through it, but there are certain life skills that can be taught to help make the transitions easier. Most of them should come from a home setting, but that may not be the most helpful/available for all people. School, however, is available for all, and there was a time when subjects like home economics (or family consumer sciences circa 2000-something) were taught with some importance.
I personally would have liked to have classes available on how to deal with personal financing, like how to do taxes, or how investing in the stock market and 401Ks work (I still don’t fully know, honestly). True, parents/guardians can shoulder some of the responsibility in making sure their children know these things, but one way to definitely make sure kids get a decent amount on exposure in dealing with real life situations is to include it naturally in school curricula. Instead of focusing on having a student body full of trigonometry and calculus experts, we could have student bodies full of kids who know the nuances of taxes and budgetary needs for their lives and their communities. Imagine how much more helpful it would be in the long run.
And as outdated as it may seem, I also think some kind of class on how to present oneself socially and professionally should also be added to the school roster, as many people seem to have forgotten the basics of decent human interaction. If working years in retail has taught me anything, it’s that not everyone understands what it’s like to live as someone else on a different social scale. Plus, in today’s digital age, social etiquette is much different from what it used to be, so that’s the kind of education that could benefit multiple generations.
From what I remember, these life lessons were somewhat taught when I was in high school, lumped together in one class – family consumer sciences. The problem was that no one really took it seriously because it was a) more of an elective and b) it was generally taught by older teachers who either didn’t want to, or didn’t know how to relate the subject to the new and changing generation. One of the biggest things I envy about students today is their accessibility to the world via the internet, and how easy it is to find ways to apply what is taught in schools to the world outside of school. I especially envy how easy it is to find information on whatever subject you want with minimal effort, just a quick google search and the answers are literally at your fingertips. I’m not saying that every student will take the same enthusiastic approach to Taxes 101, but it is much easier to relay how important it will be in the future instead of the importance of knowing derivative functions.
I think one of the best ways to really get kids more excited about school and learning has to do with change. The rigid way education is currently set up is the same it has been for decades, without a lot of adaptations to prepare kids on how to function as adults in the internet age; at least in the case of my generation. Simply teaching grade school students the things they need to know to get into college isn’t enough anymore. The world has changed a lot, especially in recent years, and is quickly progressing even more. What we need is an education system that can successfully adapt to the world just at quickly, or we’ll continue to see ourselves left behind.
What do you think? Are we preparing our students enough for the problems of the real world? Or is it too much for them to handle? What life-skill classes would you liked to have had in grade school?