Western Morning News

Teach children the important skills


ON the news we see another report of parents moaning about having to home-school and not being able to cope? Friends of mine who are primary school teachers often tell me at the start of the new term of the number of children who turn up unable to dress themselves or tie their shoes, unable to read and – worse of all – not toilet-trained!

When they point out these failures, they always get a feisty remark that it is the school’s and the teacher’s job. Well, parents – it is your job.

As the youngest of four siblings, with two older sisters and an older brother, I watched my mother cook, sew, darn, and knit. All these skills were passed on to all of us as we grew up. Unfortunat­ely, in this age of a take away and chuck away society, most of these skills have been lost.

Perhaps learning some of these skills again could save a bob or two and parents could then pass them on again to their offspring. My father, a farm labourer, taught both my brother and me how to grow vegetables, hunt and shoot. By the time I was at senior school age, I could handle a shotgun and knew how to set a snare and skin or pluck what I had shot or trapped.

I would spend many a day as a youngster fishing off the rocks, where the fish caught would be gutted and filleted before bringing home to eat.

Other skills taught by my parents were how to change a plug or a fuse, use spanners, a saw, hammer, screwdrive­r or chisel safely. I spent many hours building dilly carts or fixing my pushbike, changing a tyre, fixing a puncture, or changing a link in the chain!

I just wonder how many dads and mums have these basic skills now? l realise that in today’s world walking around with a shotgun or snaring rabbits is not the done thing, but there are plenty of other skills parents could be passing on to their children or learning themselves.

Another important lesson that we were taught at school was to have an exercise book at the ready, where flora and fauna could be identified and logged.

I am horrified at the times when watching a quiz show on the TV and there will be a question about identifyin­g wild native birds? Apart from the robin, which contestant­s know only from Christmas cards, the majority have not a clue.

These days it is all about computers and smart phones, not getting back to what is really important to survive in the future. You cannot eat a computer or a smart phone, but unfortunat­ely people are being brainwashe­d into thinking that we cannot live without them.

Paul Benney Crantock, Newquay

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