Much of what we learn in school has no practical application. I’ve gone to 2 years of pre-school, 7 years of prep school (primary level education in Jamaica), 7 years of high school, 3 years of University Part I, 5 years of law school, and 1 year of my Master’s degree and not once did I have a class on important life skills!
School taught me many lessons but very few of the life skills I needed to be successful in life.
As a child, I was a smartass. I’m certain at some point my mother will comment on this post saying that I still am but…we just won’t listen to her.
When I was in the 10th grade of high-school, I ended up in a class called “Additional Mathematics” (Add Math). Add Math, however, was hard. And I struggled. All the concepts were a sea of information that made no sense to me.
Then my teacher started to teach us sine, cosine, and tan. I can’t really tell you what they are. I’m sure I grasped it enough at the time to pass the test but honestly, Google is your friend here. What I can tell you is, they are things you have to calculate that require you to possess an EXPENSIVE ASS SCIENTIFIC CALCULATOR. I didn’t get the point of learning them. I didn’t get the point of knowing what they were for. And with 30 problem questions in front of me that were making no sense, I needed to know.
So, I embraced the joys of being a smartass. And well, I asked.
YNMJ: “Oh Great Add Math Teacher, sent to us from the gods, what is the purpose of cosine and tan? How can I use them in real life? Can I use them at the supermarket?”
*my classmates looked up, interested in the answer*
Great Add Math Teacher: “Sit down and finish the questions.”
That was it. After months of trying to learn this madness, she didn’t have an answer for me. AT ALL.
WE WERE JUST LEARNING HOW TO PASS A TEST, NOT HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN LIFE. I NEEDED LIFE SKILLS!
Someone is going to say that in their current profession, cosine and tan play an important role and they couldn’t do without them. That the Universe as I know it wouldn’t be the same. That my iPad needs cosine and tan to show me YouTube videos. And I completely get you. But let’s be real here, not once since I left that class have I been compelled to use cosine and tan. And well, I truly doubt most of you have had a burning need to pull them out at the supermarket this year.
5 Important Life Skills I Wish We Had Been Taught Instead
We learned about cosine but instead, maybe we should have learned about these 5 life skills instead.
1. How to Deal with Intimate Relationships and Marriage
Most people spend their lives trying to pair up with others. Call it biological urge. Call it a desire to be part of a pair. Call it madness. But a chunk of people spend a chunk of their lives trying to find “The One”.
Wish you all the best with that.
But would it have killed the people in our schools to have taught us the basics of making relationships work and what to do if they don’t? Things like:
- Why do you want to be in a relationship?
- How your attachment style may affect your relationship
- How to choose a good partner
- Questions to consider when choosing a partner
- How to make a relationship work
- The signs to move on from a relationship
- How to break up and end the relationship
You know, high-quality information. After all, it’s not like we’re going try to be in relationships for the rest of our lives or anything.
2. Determining Whether Children Are Right For You
- What do you know about them? What do you think about them? Are they right for you?
- Do you want any? It’s perfectly ok if you don’t. A child-free life or a child-free marriage are super awesome life goals. No judgment required!
- If you want children, how many do you want? Having a large family could make you super happy and that is nothing to scoff at!
- Can you talk to your partner about having a baby? Do you want to be married before having children? Are you ok with being single or unmarried and having a child?
- What happens if you cannot have a child?
These are super important questions it would have been nice to have received a worksheet on!
Adults suck at making new friends. I’m gonna chalk this up to a failure to ever having been taught how to in the first place. And I’m gonna get it out of the way and say we never practiced because there were always “friends” around us. But friendships matter.
When you’re at a high school of 1600 students you never really have to search for friends. You practically fall over them. You have the skill of recognizing someone just because you have stared at the back of their head during devotions for years! But learning to make friends as an adult is a skill. And you cannot underestimate how important a skill it is until you look around and find that you don’t have strong and solid connections with other people.
4. How to Spend Money Wisely
Part of the fun of growing up is making money. It is the reason many of us studied hard in school or hustled after school. Money is fun!
It would, therefore, have been lovely to have had classes on personal finance and handing money. Yes, I taught my students budgeting in Social Studies class. For only 1 hour. With a table where they filled in the budget categories and had to make sure their income matched their expenditure.
Life however never looks like that. What we should teach are practical and much more useful skills.
Yoo’s mother has sent her $1000 to pay for rent and groceries in December. Since she lives in Barbados, she will not get a dollar more because Christmas is not a life emergency. Rent is $750 and groceries are $225 for the month. Yoo also wants to go to at least 2 parties for Christmas. Each party costs $50. How many parties can Yoo afford to attend?
Bonus Question: Yoo attended 2 parties because she is an idiot. How many ways must she learn to cook the giant turkey leg her landlady has gifted her in order to make it to the beginning of January since she has no food?
I don’t eat turkey anymore.
Spending money wisely is not only about the money but about priorities and long term planning. Retirement planning, saving for a house, buying a new vs. a used car, and spending on experiences vs. things are all part of spending money wisely.
Some of the best people to read on this are:
- Mr. Money Mustache (I’m devoted to and obsessed with MMM)
- Millenial Money Man
5. How to Deal With Stress
In life, there is good stress and bad stress. The good kind energizes you and pushes you to take bold steps and accomplish tasks.
The bad kind leads to heart attacks.
Life is all about figuring out which one you are dealing with. A class on that would have been nice.
A few ways of dealing with stress are:
- Exercising – the 30 Day Yoga Challenge is next on my list.
- Getting enough sleep
- Keep a journal – I currently do the 5-minute journal in the mornings.
- Learning that your To Do List of 50 items cannot be accomplished today. And being ok with that.
Each of these life skills would have been useful to learn to live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives.
Let me know in the comments if there are any useless things you had been taught and what would have helped you instead.
Be Kind To Yourself,