Teaching Life Skills Has Never Been More Important

The Destination Method teaches that an education is a means to an end: specifically, a happy and fulfilling life.

Good Education Produces Good Adults

A good education must prepare students for the trials of life. In particular, it must:

  1. Teach skills that are highly valued on the job market.
  2. Help students plan and prepare for a career.
  3. Teach personal finance and wealth management, so that students can fully benefit from their income.
  4. Instill the attitudes and skills necessary to start, raise, and care for a family.
  5. Help students become contributing members of their broader community.

Do you feel that your own education fulfilled all these requirements? Have the other homeschool philosophies you’ve investigated put serious thought into each of these points?

It’s shamefully rare for public schools or homeschools alike to properly prioritize employer-valued technical skills – probably because most educators don’t even know what those skills are. It’s even less common for a curriculum to devote any meaningful attention to the key life skills that allow students to become confident and fulfilled adults.

The Destination Method is the only homeschool philosophy that actively promotes the study of both marketable skills and life skills as a core goal. In the rest of this post, we’ll focus on the teaching of life skills. Marketable skills will be the topic of a subsequent post.

Financial Life Is Hard

Let’s be entirely frank: many aspects of life are getting harder, and even well-established adults are having a hard time adjusting. Price inflation has been a brutal drain on everyone’s finances over the past several years, to the point that it’s getting difficult for many people to afford basic necessities like food, toiletries, and gas. At the same time, the phenomenon of “shrinkflation” means that many products don’t offer as much as they did in the past: the rolls of paper towels you purchase today likely have fewer sheets than they did a few years ago, boxes of food contain less than they did in the past, and so on. The quality of once-reliable clothing brands has decreased substantially, and ridiculous trends like “fast fashion” mean that young people are encouraged to change their wardrobe several times per year.

Meanwhile, 73% of young adults are living paycheck-to-paycheck. There are many culprits, but the elephant in the room is student debt. A majority of recent college graduates have taken student loans, and nearly half of these students look back at college attendance as a poor financial decision. These young people have fallen prey to the terrible evil of bad education. Tragically, it’s likely that they were informed, by well-intentioned but badly misinformed elders, that all they needed to do in order to secure their future was to get an education. It’s highly unlikely anyone warned them to avoid a bad education; most people don’t even seriously consider the possibility that an education can be “bad” – after all, isn’t education an intrinsically good thing?

A “bad education” is an education that does not properly equip a student for the requirements of future life, including both career and family life. A large majority of educations today fall under this category. Bad educations are convenient for educators. They are standard within colleges. They are popular among homeschool leaders. If you let them, they will steal your child’s future.

#finance #personal-finance #banking #saving” by Free For Commercial Use (FFC) is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The Destination Method Teaches Financial Management

Any adequate education must, at a bare minimum, teach basic personal finance skills. It must warn students of the dangers of debt, including college loan debt, and help them create plans to avoid debt wherever possible. It should teach simple investing principles, economical consumer tactics, and important considerations when making big purchases (such as cars and homes). It must help them select a career path and help them understand the expectations of a professional environment.

In order to ensure that children receive sufficient instruction in all of these areas, the Destination Method recognizes “Wealth” as an essential academic subject, of equal importance to more traditional subjects like “English”, “Science”, and “History”. The subject of Wealth includes the study of personal finances, as well as career development, home ownership, business operations, and economics. There’s no way to guarantee a specific financial outcome for any particular student, of course, but students who have extensively studied Wealth will be vastly better equipped to avoid common financial mistakes that leave many good people living hand-to-mouth.

Whether you follow specific Wealth recommendations from us or select your own resources, we strongly encourage you to spend time covering these topics at every grade level.

Personal Life is Hard

Day-to-day home life is a more complicated affair than we probably recognize: a typical adult needs to know something about cooking, cleaning, lawncare, home organization, laundry care, personal care, child care, and home maintenance. Somewhat more niche skills, like sewing, mending, carpentry, and gardening are also extremely useful from time to time. Our relationships with other people require continued attention and development, with marriages in particular requiring special effort and a bit of insight into the nature of men and women.

It has seemingly been assumed that children will develop these these skills naturally, without any concerted effort to teach them. That simply hasn’t proven to be the case; many young adults have never learned much about these tasks, and nearly everyone can identify a few opportunities for self-improvement. For some people, the problem is much worse: a frightening number of full-grown adults feel as though they are trapped in a state of adolescence, even well into their twenties and thirties. The problem is so widespread that the word “adulting” has entered the vernacular; this phrase refers to efforts by young adults to tackle milestones that have traditionally been associated with entry into adulthood, but for which they feel distinctly unprepared.

Once again, this is a failure of bad education.

The Destination Method Teaches Basic Adult Skills

Much like Wealth, we classify Adulthood as a core academic subject. Throughout every year of their education, students should learn a significant amount about one or more of the basic life skills that all adults must know. There are many ways to make progress towards this goal: you could ask your children to cook dinner once a week, or find babysitting opportunities, or show them how to paint a room, or teach them woodworking. The key is remembering to keep them involved as much as possible. Even something as simple as assigning lawn mowing as a chore can help children feel more like mature adults – even if they are likely to complain about it. Feel free to pay them, if it helps; after all, earning money is a very adult thing to do!

Other important topics that fall under Adulthood include relationship advice, driver education, nutrition, and safety training. We’ll soon be releasing free resources and product recommendations for teaching Adulthood, so stay tuned!

Education Must Not Be Aimless

I know this is quite different from the way most people have been taught to understand the concept of education, so I’ll say it again: education is a means to an end. It is a powerful process, capable of transforming a student into an entirely different person – hopefully, a mature and accomplished adult. Undergoing education without first having some vague idea of who that adult should be is no wiser than stepping onto an ocean liner without first knowing the destination port.

The proponents of other teaching methods are greatly offended by this notion.  “Education is the end-goal!” they loudly proclaim.  Nonsense. No one applies this reasoning to anything of genuine importance. No fitness trainer says “Fitness is not the goal, exercise is the goal!” No doctor says “Health is not the goal, a check-up is the goal!” No politician says “Good public policy is not the goal, my personal election victory is the goal!” (although perhaps most of them do think this).

Be very skeptical of educators who tell you “Verifiably useful skills and insights aren’t the goal, education is the goal!” This was the attitude that was used to educate Millennials. It didn’t work for them, and it won’t work for your child.

221/365 – 05/07/10 [365 Days @ 50mm] – Lawn Mowing” by Shardayyy is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Education Without a Goal Has Been Disastrous

Spend a bit of time reading the news, and you’ll find plenty of articles noting that Millennials (of whom the author is a member) are considerably better educated than previous generations – while also having lower incomes, more debt, poorer mental health, fewer marriages, fewer children, fewer real friends, and less sense of community involvement. Somehow, increased college attendance hasn’t helped younger generations; in fact, many of the people who are suffering the most also happen to have spent the most time at an institution of higher learning. Enormous numbers of young people are graduating with advanced degrees, attempting to enter the workforce, finding that the only available jobs in their fields of study don’t pay very well, realizing that they are now stuck with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, and ultimately giving up on any hope of owning a home or starting a family.

Entire generations have been destroyed by bad education. Your child doesn’t need to be among them.

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