Teach teenagers life skills at school

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - BACKYARD BANTER CLASSIFIED INDEX -

won­ders if teens are be­ing equipped in the class­room to han­dle the pres­sures of the out­side world.

When I was grow­ing up, it was a cer­tainty that my brother and I would go to univer­sity and ‘‘get good jobs’’ as soon as we’d left school. We were for­tu­nate to have good grades and for the most part en­joyed school, so univer­sity en­rol­ment was as much ex­pected by our­selves as it was by our par­ents.

The con­cepts of start­ing my own busi­ness or think­ing out­side the box were never of­fered to me and never oc­curred to me.

In fact, kids who didn’t go to univer­sity were sub­con­sciously la­belled as hav­ing failed the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem; sim­ply ‘‘get­ting a job’’ or staying in our small town wasn’t deemed as be­ing suc­cess­ful.

Fast-for­ward a lot of years and 2018 stu­dents have myr­iad more op­tions than 2001 me did. There’s still univer­sity of course, but more and more school-leavers are fore­go­ing ter­tiary study in favour of start­ing their own busi­nesses, trav­el­ling the world, learn­ing on the job, or all of the above – and all of those op­tions are OK.

But when they leave the safe con­fines of the class­room, are our teens equipped to han­dle the pres­sures of the out­side world? Have they been set up to suc­ceed in a world that doesn’t al­ways match to what they’ve learned while sit­ting at a desk? I worry that they’re not.

English, bi­ol­ogy, sta­tis­tics and ev­ery­thing in be­tween are still ob­vi­ously es­sen­tial school sub­jects. But I think a life class is es­sen­tial too – one that should be com­pul­sory.

In this class, stu­dents could learn how to be safe (and kind) on the in­ter­net, in­clud­ing how to iden­tify fake news and read crit­i­cally. It would dive right into money man­age­ment; not sim­ply bud­get­ing, but mak­ing money work for them in­clud­ing spend­ing well, sav­ing, in­vest­ing, giv­ing, Ki­wisaver and re­tire­ment, buy­ing a house. And un­til they buy that house, how to be a good ten­ant. Also how to use on­line selling plat­forms like Neigh­bourly to make money out of stuff they don’t want any­more – or even con­nect with the com­mu­nity to find work, paid and/or vol­un­teer. (And let’s not for­get how to do your own taxes!)

A life class would teach teens the ba­sics of nu­tri­tion and cook­ing (be­cause we all know that youth­ful me­tab­o­lisms don’t last for­ever). Teens would learn the re­al­i­ties of al­co­hol, cig­a­rette and drug abuse; not just ‘‘don’t do it’’ but ‘‘these are the sto­ries of peo­ple who did it and wish they hadn’t’’.

They’d learn how to put to­gether a great CV and how to im­press in an in­ter­view, how to deal with col­leagues and bosses they don’t like and their rights as a young em­ployee.

For those head­ing off for fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion they’d learn how to take notes – and how to get the best out of those notes. How to be in­volved in their com­mu­ni­ties – and why they should. They’d learn te reo. They’d learn about what makes a healthy re­la­tion­ship; they’d learn about sex­ual con­sent.

Yes, teens can learn some of these es­sen­tials in cer­tain sub­jects, but not ev­ery teen has to. There’s also the ar­gu­ment that par­ents should be teach­ing these kinds of things, but not ev­ery par­ent has the know-how to do so.

Since it’s all es­sen­tial ed­u­ca­tion that needs to hap­pen at some point in their lives, it makes sense to me that it hap­pens where they’re learn­ing ev­ery­thing else – in the class­room.



Teens could learn the ba­sics of nu­tri­tion and cook­ing in a life class.

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