Posted by: secretperson | October 20, 2008

Teach Life Skills in Schools

Iain Duncan Smith writes in the Telegraph today how people’s ignorance of financial matters as well as greedy bankers helped cause the current crisis and proposed that “Personal finance should be part of the school curriculum”.

I couldn’t agree more.

We’ve also recently seen Jamie Oliver’s latest show teaching working class families in Rotherham how to cook rather than relying on takeaways.

Cooking should be taught in schools too.

I understand that schools have plenty of pressures on them already to fit in various subjects. In primary schools they have the literacy and numeracy hours, there are set hours of sports and no doubt various other government mandated requirements. While I am wary of any central government dictation to schools, I feel that ‘life skills’ lessons would be incredibly useful, especially for those who might not pursue an academic career later in life.

It seems some of this is taught in citizenship lessons. I am not sure what goes on in Britishness lessons. At our school we had Personal and Social Education (PSE) which covered some of the areas I am proposing, and many schools merge RE into this lesson. There is some space that can be found I am sure to bring all these things together. Maybe Sex Ed could be thrown in too?

Education is about setting people up for life. That should include every day living, shopping, cooking, cleaning and financial management, as well as getting a job. Some aspects must already be taught in our schools, but it seems many people leave school ill-educated about important skills. Government wants us all to lead healthy lives, why not give people the information and skills to do so, rather than taxing them into it? Or telling them it isn’t their fault it’s the class system, but not trying to resolve the problem.

People who know how to budget, how to say no to dodgy sales pitches, how to cook cheap and healthy meals and other life skills, surely these people are better off than those who have been told about bland, meaningless, “shared British values”. And the political correctness of citizenship lessons, with more on Fair Trade than how to cook your ‘ethical products’ and more multiculturalism than money management may not engage with children.

I think re-designing these courses into a practical life skills course would be more likely to interest children and be hugely beneficial for them in later life.


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