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It was decades ago that I was in grammar school.  Things were significantly different then than they are now.  Of course computers and smart phones were not even in our line of sight as they are today.  I am not questioning the digital revolution one whit, as I believe it is integral to our growth as people, our growth as an economy as well as our growth globally.

But I am dismayed by our departure from grammar school years of some of the basics that we used to go through.  I remember one class in particular in 7th grade (about age 12) called Home Economics, in which both the boys and girls had to take.  It was a school year long class and included cooking, sewing, electricity and plumbing.  We all had to learn how to cook some basic foods and as part of the class had to cook a hot lunch for ourselves.  And I am not talking about just opening a can or defrosting something.  I already knew how to pretty much do all of that because I liked to cook at home.  We began the electricity segment by learning about AC/DC currents.  We wired our own lamps using some kind of jug or vessel of our choosing and our own lamp shade.  I had never done anything like that so it became a new notch in my belt.  Then came sewing.  I learned to sew a button on, how to iron a shirt, darn a sock and how to operate a sewing machine.  Another notch was basic plumbing.  All good basic home skills that I can still use as of this day.

But I have noticed a great deal of angst on the internet about how poorly prepared the average young person is in joining the US job market today.  I cannot speak for other countries.  The following is not a complete or exhaustive list but it begins making the point,

1) Basic Money Management Skills

2) Build and Keeping Good Credit

3) Basic Home Budgeting

4) Taxes

5) Nutrition

6) Time Management

7) Self-Defense

8) Self-Confidence

9) Picking the Right Career

10) Cooking

11) Sewing

12) Basic Electronics

13) Proper Research and Study Skills

As I said previously this is not a complete list so I'd love to hear from others about their thoughts about additions and/or deletions and why.  

I also remember 8th grade where we had to do 3 research projects in order to graduate.  This was public school, not private, not parochial, not home schooling, and at that time we never heard of charter schools.   One was to complete a family tree going back as far as we could to the great-great grandparent level if we could.  The second was to write an autobiography.  The third was to do a scrapbook on The City of Chicago.  Do eighth graders today do anything like these three projects?  Just wondering?  What we did not have then was the learning of a second language.  In those days in Chicago that was under the purview of High School.  Something I know I missed.    

Bob Jacobson

August 31, 2021


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