Classroom as Microcosm

Siobhan Curious on Open Salon
APRIL 2, 2012 10:38AM

Things They Should Teach In School

Rate: 2 Flag

The Husband and I have just finalized a deal to purchase a house. (To read about one of the more dramatic adventures of our search, go here.) In the process, we've had to do all sorts of things that we've never had to do before. We didn't have the faintest clue how to tackle some of these things: how to best negotiate the terms of a mortgage, or what to look for in a real estate agent, or how to read a co-ownership agreement.

Along the way, someone said to The Husband, "Buying a house is one of those situations where you have to become an expert in something that you might do once, maybe twice, in your life." And this is true. But there are some simple and not-so-simple things that most of us are going to have to do in life that we don't learn about in school.

For example, the house that we finally found - a house that we totally love - is old. It has some problems that will need to be fixed. We will need to call an electrician, and a mason, and a contractor. The electrician and the mason - well, fine. But why is it that we feel the need to pay someone to install gyproc over the exposed insulation? Surely that's a fairly straightforward task? For heaven's sake, I was even talking about paying someone to paint. I'll have plenty of time to paint - I'll be on summer vacation - but I wasn't confident I could do a proper job. I've come around on that one, but not because I'm sure I can do it right. I've come around because I should know how to paint walls, and woodwork, and bannisters, and so I should practice.

Why don't we learn things like home repair in school? I know, there's woodshop or industrial arts or whatever it's called these days, but it's not the same. Beyond that, why don't we learn the principles of designing a kitchen or tending a garden? Most people will own homes at some point. Most people would be better off if they could install a faucet or properly deal with a musty dryer (a task we found ourselves faced with this weekend, as though the universe is prepping us for the days ahead, when we won't be able to call the landlord about ANYTHING.)

What else should be taught in school, but isn't, at least in the schools you've attended? Things that immediately come to my mind: meditation, cell phone etiquette (etiquette in general, for that matter) and how to counsel a troubled friend. What do you wish you knew that no one ever taught you?

Image by Sanja Gjenero

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Siobhan,excellent work,an excellent question.I wish they had taught me good manners,I wish they had taught me dealing with taxes and knowing my rights,I wish they had taught me crisis management and how to raise a child,I wish they had taught me how to stand by my family in old age and how to ρay my bills..how to not go to a university that was my way to unemρloyment...I am a historian..I wish our system here was like yours,enabling us to have at the same time 2 degrees..I wish they had taught me how to ρrotect my self...Cause I am too... "We didn't have the faintest clue how to .."I am in search of the how to....and I am trying to keeρ it a secret..That is why I find stories like yours in OS so useful to me..Cause they teach me life the best way..through exρerience...And exρerience is a university itself...Thank you for sharing..Wishes for a beautiful new month..Best regards,Siobhan..
Well, one of the things that we were "taught" in school (at least learning was reinforced) was a social contract in which we were expected to sit down, shut up, keep our eyes on our own paper and do the work.
Seems to me a lot of that is lacking anymore.
Learn how to appreciate what you have. It took many hours for me to learn that and it seems to me like too many people never achieve this at any point in their life - which is pretty sad; according to the life we enjoy in industrialized countries.
My husband and I bought a house almosth three years ago and completely remodeled it with the help of our realtor who did much to connect us the the right people. Take a lot of pictures during your progress... you will surprise yourself on how much you can do on your own. With that, what did I wish I learned in school? PATIENCE. I was such an impatient and impulsive person through my late 20s that what I know now about some things being a journey (like a rewarding and fufilling career, discovering and developing my artistic self, love for myself) I wish I had been taught to experience in school. Meditation and yoga helped me get on that path. To have had that conduit in school would have been really beautiful. Thanks for posting this question!