Thursday, 13 February 2014
This question was asked on BBC Radio Gloucestershire yesterday, in response to a report just out which recommends a new GCSE in life skills to prepare teenagers for the working world....and, well, for life.
I have my doubts about exams in perseverance, self control, the ability to bounce back from set backs - and all the other so called 'soft skills' the report talks about. And I'm not sure these things are best learnt in after school clubs - surely this is the stuff of life - real, family life with all its ups and downs?
So I reckon it would be much better to teach practical skills - the kind of thing that makes teenagers genuinely self-sufficient, emotionally and otherwise. OK, I know, why should already overburdened schools have to teach this stuff? Of course they shouldn't have to. Us parents should be imparting it - just as my dad taught me to paint and decorate and my mum taught me to use a sewing machine. It was part of life.
Here are the top ten skills I wish I'd taught my kids (and failed miserably, mostly)
1. How to change a plug/fuse and how not to electrocute yourself.
2. How often to change sheets and wash towels.
(One friend of mine was horrified to discover that her daughter hadn't changed her sheets once in the whole of the first term at uni.)
3. How to clean the bath, cooker etc and which products to use where.
4. Food hygiene. Why it's important to clean the chopping board after cutting up raw meat. How to defrost, why you can't refreeze etc. Sell-by dates and when to ignore them
5. How to drive. I'm a rubbish driver myself so I know how important this is.
6. How to mend clothes
7. How to feed yourself on £20 a week.
8. How not to shrink the socks your mum knitted you (OK that was my fault).
9. How to look after a plant.
10. And last but definitely not least: How to be kind and think of others, especially your mum.