Looking back I wanted to attend the ‘School of Life’ from an early age. I had dreams that ran the gamut. I definitely always identified with sea creatures, fantasizing I was once a mermaid and swam in all the waters in the wide world, being able to talk and breathe underwater with no issues. Taking ballet from a very young age until high school, I practiced my prima ballerina moves with full leaps across our oriental living room rug, or our Lake Murray front lawn. When Nadia Comāneci owned the Olympics in 1976, I wanted to be a gymnast. At sixteen, my best friend in ballet was handpicked by none other than my idol and crush Mikhail Baryshnikov himself to study with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. Noting I was not her, I slowly turned dance into a more social affair of movement and took up photography with zest, notably after seeing graffiti on the New York subways and when I learned of the acclaimed Annie Leibovitz. Sailing always seemed a likely life plan of some workable sort, as I’m as comfortable as they come on most any boat, but especially a sailing craft.
All knocks were up for grabs and I was ready for it all — even those pesky hard knocks people spoke about. Yet, the oddity to me during my well-spent hindsight years since is just how much is missing from what I humbly consider a valuable versatile life education. I think people knowing themselves and the world around them skills are as close to oneself as any levels of Godliness most preach. I think we have a wealth of outstanding teachers, but we may be missing the mark by leap years on some very vital basic teachings. I realize many of us have parents, guardians or caregivers that may be relied upon for a lot of what I note following. However, the bone I’d like to pick today you might gently consider an addition more than a subtraction. I’m weighing in to share that I firmly believe life skills co-mingle so well within the ‘School of Life’ philosophy I’ll present as well-rounded citizens operating with better marbles than not.
In fact, I proclaim my fidelity to a set of what I’ll call ‘School of Life Skills’ as wholeheartedly as I trust in the UNICEF/Delphi Method/WHO outline of Life skills. They go hand in hand, arm in arm, brainwave in brainwave. That said, my list below is where I think we as a society, global culture, and community could use to enrich our primary, secondary, and collegiate educational system (no matter homeschooled, public, private, or all between and beyond). I sense if we taught this sequence as a staple too, what a wonderful world it would be:
- Accounting: Budgeting, understanding money, bank accounts, credit cards, balancing accounts (software such as Quicken or Quickbooks); taxes and repercussions; appreciation and depreciation
- Body Knowledge: How all your innards work inside to out and back, as well those of your opposite genders; Knowledge is King, and I don’t merely mean your own point of view only (i.e. Males are worth more knowing such things as menstruation, and women ought to understand there way around a penis beyond its pee and penetration)
- Businesses: How to build one, what qualifications are needed; LLC vs S Corps (state per state, and country per country); contracts and agreements; legal; supply chain
- Cars: Licenses; laws and breaking laws; renting versus owning; used versus new; insurance; maintenance basic how-to and longer-term needs for vehicles
- Communication: Effective dialogue in life around how to communicate clearly, directly, honestly, gracefully, usefully; speaking skills, tact, how much to share, when, and the ever-so-important why
- Education: All schooling levels (costs and reasons + alternatives); technical and specific skilled accredited certifications and degrees; higher education; study abroad; missions and NGO/volunteer programs; mentorship and internships
- Environment: Mother Earth is our house; short and everlasting effects of good care of the planet; your human footprint
- Far Future Planning: Living Will; life insurance; personal medical choices (hospital; assisted living; hospice; costs of these or not)
- Government/Civic Duty: Voting; understanding our governmental system; jury duty; local, state, and Federal laws
- Homes: Renting versus owning; mortgages, lending, loans; property taxes, maintenance, and insurance; refinancing and more
- Investment and Savings: IRA, pension, 401-K; stocks, bonds, metals, and mutual funds; cryptocurrency and outliers on the scene through the years; savings options; material investments (art, furniture, jewelry, property, etc.)
- Mental Health: Self-help is always around (therapy of all levels, with options ranging from free to various cost: Twelve Step programs, hotlines, Meetups, traditional psychotherapy, life coaches, spiritual advisors, other marvelous modalities (trauma support, Constellation, etc.), places of religious worship); meditation, Quigong, Qoya, yoga, and else; happiness and joy with being a good person after developing as a good person (Example: Green School Bali and Riverbend School India); insurance support or what to do when that’s not available
- Physical Health: Nutrition and exercise; carbs versus calories, and what the heck else is in what you eat; fresh food versus prepared, processed and packaged; growing your own (no matter a yard or not in some cases); the value of reading labels and understanding all ingredients; health insurance costs, pre-existing, procedures, and even out of state/country options
- Self Defense: Krav Maga, Karate; Jiujitsu; MMA, and much more versus man-made weapons
- Sex and Intimacy: To 101 and beyond; intricacies and oh-so-many options; when to say when; how to say no, maybe, yes, and mean them all truthfully
- Teamwork: Interpersonal ability to join with more than oneself to identify and solve problems, or create new and useful things
- Travel and Lifestyle: Airline frequent traveler programs are for all; Passports; Global Entry and other entry/exit support; Visas; foreign currency; STEP; CDC; the proposition of living in other places than the country where you were born/raised
This is a starter list. I’m certain you get the scope. I’m offering the idea to boost our youth and young adults. By upgrading their ‘software’ to understand the world we’re setting them free in with hope to hit the jackpot (in spite of insane debt, war, terror, chaos, confusion, dissidence, or else). I challenge we create better citizens by arming ourselves, our future, especially our innovators to come (i.e. our children) with all the basic life skills, instead of leaving a lot to chance for them to learn willy-nilly.
I’m eternally grateful for my parents instructing me in many of these aspects. I’ve been equally saved time and again by the answers they provided whenever I asked gobs of questions. Sure, there were some holes in my noggin if we delve into this list and compare it to my step by step life years. There’s no getting away with perfect life skills glowingly scot free. I merely beg to differ that had the world outside my home supported what was being done best able in my home, I think I might have run for President by now. Not that you’re seeking me as an ideal candidate, but the dream is real for many my friends, and I’d much rather be in the camp that is voting for big dreams for our kids than dashing any. If we author adaptable humans, we all reap the rewards.
So, I raise my glass: “To life skills, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!”