If school is about skills, why do they ignore the most essential ones?

Education is a critical component of society. Without new members acquiring knowledge to replace the ones leaving their productive lives by choice, illness, or death society would collapse. Time is a river moving inexorably forward and generations must keep up with it or the human race will vanish.

Let’s ignore theories of education in particular. As someone who homeschools, it’s guaranteed I have strong opinions about that, but I want to talk about education in a broad sense. What’s the core of modern education?

  • Reading
  • Math
  • Communication
  • Specialized knowledge (e.g., sciences, history, geography)

All of these can be tested. Competency can be evaluated. Schools, states, and countries can be ranked.

Thinking back on my own experience, my formal education all but ignored the two most critical skills people need. This is true for any particular individual as well as the broad sense of preparing the next generation:

  • Personal Fitness
  • Personal Finance

Whoa, whoa. What about all the mandatory hours of Physical Education? Let me ask you this: did you learn a single useful bit of fitness knowledge in PE class? I certainly didn’t. Maybe you did. That’s okay, we can set it aside. It’s the second neglected skill that’s my real concern in this post.

I’ll put it this way: other than how to count it, did you learn anything about money in school? Anything even remotely connected to it? Maybe you had an Economics class, but I never had a single lesson on personal finance.

One of my biggest motivations for homeschooling was a desire to educate my children in a non-traditional manner. The core of reading, math, and communication is something we’re already working on. They soak up factual science knowledge and are learning to observe the world around them. I plan to start them on programming at a very young age (first, I have to learn it though!).

But a critical aspect of this non-traditional education is how to be healthy, physically and financially. Frugal living, to me, is only peripherally about delayed gratification. Yes, I need to save money now to retire in the (not-distant) future. Living frugally is also about living with a low environmental impact. Being a good steward of the environment around me. None of this is taught in schools.

“Well, it should be taught in the home!”

Obvious, I am doing that with my goblins. Look at the health, physical and financial, of those around you. Clearly it’s not being taught by most.


2 Comments on “If school is about skills, why do they ignore the most essential ones?”

  1. Erin @ My Alternate Life says:

    I didn’t take a single personal finance related course in all my years of education. NOT ONE. I believe there was a college course available, but it didn’t meet any class/credit requirements for any major. This is a problem…

    • David says:

      Yes, it is!

      I’m currently working on a “course” for home economics/personal finance. I have never tried writing book length non-fiction before, but I don’t want to just write random blog posts and then make it into a book afterwards (though I’m sure material from the blog will make it in there). We’ll see if I get anywhere with it.

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