In a recent Washington Post article, author Sarah Hamaker described how many young adults no longer know how to do simple, basic skills:
Colleges and employers alike are reporting that young people can’t do life’s most basic tasks. With all of our emphasis on academics and what it takes to get into college, essential life skills, such as how to do laundry, balance a checking account or cook a meal, have been overlooked.
Hamaker goes on to give several recommendations about the types of basic skills that parents should teach at certain stages of their child’s life. Skills such as reading labels, using kitchen utensils, fending for himself, and taking care of others.
But as I looked through the list of skills for each age group, I noticed that teaching one’s child social skills was a recurring theme. For example, Hamaker recommended that elementary age children be taught to “carry on a polite conversation,” middle school children be taught to “listen attentively” and “show interest by asking questions,” and high school children be taught how to successfully navigate a job interview.
What I found funny, however, is that Ms. Hamaker placed such a high emphasis on parents teaching their children social skills. The reason I found this amusing is that for many years conventional wisdom has argued that children should be sent to school – away from their parents and families – in order to “be socialized” so that they might better function in society.
If young people today are growing up without basic skills, one of which is proper knowledge of how to handle oneself in society, is it fair to say that educators are failing in an area long considered to be a primary function? Is the American society beginning to realize that parents, and not education experts, are truly the best teachers a child can have?
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Annie Holmquist is the editor of Intellectual Takeout.