01 June 2009

Training for Life Skills

As homeschoolers, I value the freedom that we enjoy to teach what we judge to be the most important. In Texas, we are technically only required to teach reading, writing, arithmetic, and Civics (yikes!). However, I think that most of us teach far more than is technically required as the lowest minimum standard.

Today, when I say 'life skills' I don't refer to laundry, grocery shopping, and measuring ingredients. I think more along the lines of

-independent problem solving
-managing tasks
-respect for authority
-eliminating the unnecessary info
-working alone productively
-managing deadlines
-finding solutions

When I have had job interviews, talked to managers about their employees, or read articles about 'what employers want' etc, I find common threads. Today's employees, the young people that we as a nation are launching into the workforce, are unprepared for the workplace. Even if we completely disregard their academic abilities (such as making change, writing decent memos, and other education-derived tasks) they are terribly unfit for almost any employment. They are unable to work independently, moving from task to task without lolling about on the internet or at the proverbial water cooler. If they run into an obstacle, they don't problem-solve to continue with their task. They cannot sift through extra information to find an answer, they have a short attention span when confronted with a challenge, in short they are without the training necessary to work productively.

If you defer the education of our children to an outside source, such as the state, you must be vigilant to ensure that the associated tasks of education are being met (such as the list above). Instantly to mind comes visions of my mother and my aunt. They spend (or spent) the time each evening at the kitchen table going over homework, doing flashcards, demanding rewrites, and raising the bar of requirements for their child's education. We are raising future adults, not children. Not only did my mom ensure educational goals were met, she made it a lifestyle to write and meet goals, to break up tasks into manageable chunks, to pay attention, to respect teachers, to solve problems.

My brother, my sister, and I all think that it is normal to see a problem at work, create a solution, and tell management about the steps taken to solve it. We are seen as freaks of employment! What is that about?!

This is what is needed today! Whether you homeschool or supplement a public education, you must own and be responsible for the shape of your child's abilities. Your child has complete freewill after he leaves the house. But before that day, you must demand that your child learns the other set of skills that makes a productive and capable worker.

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