What weren't you taught that you think you should have been?
March 8, 2015 3:51 AM   Subscribe

Lifehacker asked "What Necessary Adult Skills Were You Never Taught Growing Up?" Since personal hygiene skills was a popular response, the site created "An Adult's Guide to Hygiene (for Those Who Weren't Taught Growing Up)"
posted by Brandon Blatcher (86 comments total) 92 users marked this as a favorite
 
Personal finance. I think it should be taught as a separate class in senior high school. Taxes, salaries, insurance, mortgages, loans, etc. I can't recall even five minutes ever spent on teaching me these things in school.
posted by zardoz at 4:10 AM on March 8, 2015 [95 favorites]


Smiling. Nobody told me that to get a white-collar bullshit job you have to be really really smiley and phoney all the time.
posted by colie at 5:14 AM on March 8, 2015 [21 favorites]


Any kind of critical thinking - but one way to address this would have been to teach the principles of first-year law courses, appropriately framed, throughout elementary and secondary school.
posted by mmiddle at 5:15 AM on March 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


Personal finance. I think it should be taught as a separate class in senior high school. Taxes, salaries, insurance, mortgages, loans, etc. I can't recall even five minutes ever spent on teaching me these things in school.

I went to what's still a working-class high school, one of the last in Oregon to still teach mechanics, woodworking, that sort of thing. We were all strongly encouraged to take a personal finance course available junior or senior year (students' choice). It was excellent.

Our teacher had us pair up, then each of us drew a job from his cowboy hat. He did the jobs based on a realistic distribution of jobs in real life. Meaning, a couple unemployed, some stay-at-home parents, a lot of students at minimum wage, most with middle-class salaries, a few had a little extra spending money, and then there were two "rich" jobs, doctor and lawyer. For our class he mentioned that, also reflective of reality, no class had ever drawn both rich jobs. After our class he had to change the way he said it to future classes, because my partner and I drew lawyer and doctor...

We learned how to budget, write checks, rent and buy housing (he wanted us to see the upsides and downsides of both), what to look for in different types of loans/interest rates and types, and why, ditto for savings, retirement, etc. That class is why I chose our local university rather than taking out more loans to go out-of-state; the cheaper loans are how I was able to afford to live overseas; living overseas is how I have built my life. I've kept a budget and tracked every piece of income and expense ever since. I've gone from being in debt, to having nothing (which is better than being in debt), to having a little, to having next-to-nothing again (bad breakup...), to having enough to live comfortably. On my own, with no income from anything other than my own work. The only time I've ever had a financial gift was a plane ticket (it was a lovely gift indeed). That plus living in a socialist country where people don't go into medical debt. That is huge.

I took the personal finance class in 1992-1993. There were all sorts of savings options open to everyone back then. Nowadays you're lucky if you get a 1% return on a basic savings account, which is insane. Also, our teacher at the time, who was nearing retirement, noted that he'd never had students who became homeless; the vast majority, even those who went through long periods of unemployment, stabilized in their 40s and had comfortable lives. Well, we're hitting our 40s now, and I have classmates who are unemployed and a few who are homeless...

If I were to boil it down, personal finance comes to what you see in a lot of places:
- keep a budget: income and ALL expenses. Even those "accidental"-every-month few books/clothes/cat toys/dog snacks you get. Take the mean – not the average, but the mean. You want to know how much you spend every month; not how little. They are a predictable expense.
- balance your budget: this means writing down everything. It doesn't take long if you keep receipts. Compare this written-down reality to your budget (this is what "balance" means in this case). If your budget does not reflect reality, you will see it quickly: this is where enlightenment occurs.

I do all this with a spreadsheet for the budget, and paper and pen for income/expenses. Literally when I travel I carry a notebook for my budget, yes. It's saved me more than a few times.

Here's where my personal twist comes in: you might have noticed I don't say anything about savings. I count it as expenses, put it in my savings accounts, and forget about it until I need it. I don't track savings in writing, precisely so I don't tempt myself. For me that works; people have different needs and approaches to money, though.
posted by fraula at 5:19 AM on March 8, 2015 [80 favorites]


The first time anybody ever said "clean this place" and then gave me detailed instructions and proper, accessible supplies to do it was at a food service job when I was in college.
posted by milk white peacock at 5:36 AM on March 8, 2015 [23 favorites]


How to handle email and other information overload.
posted by parudox at 5:50 AM on March 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think personal finance needs to include stuff like investing too.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:27 AM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


My daughter is in her last semester in HS and is currently taking personal finance. But I do kind of wish she could replace her final semester of HS English with How to Clean Up That Filthy Pigsty You Call Your Bedroom and Prioritizing Dental Hygiene: Your Eyeballs Won't Fall Out If You Don't Have Time to Put On Eyeliner in the Morning.
posted by drlith at 6:43 AM on March 8, 2015 [32 favorites]


As I creep towards middle age and accrue more injuries that could easily have been prevented, I wish that the basics of posture, motion, and bodily awareness were taught in PE. All of us stand, sit, walk, and run, but few know how to do it in a way that is balanced and aligned. Still less can most of us isolate and activate particular muscle groups. If I'd had any awareness of how to use my body in everyday life activities, I might have avoided some nasty exercise-related problems, as well as a pelvic alignment issue brought on by bad sitting that caused a lot of pain and is taking forever to readjust.
posted by informavore at 6:52 AM on March 8, 2015 [44 favorites]


I still don't know how to add air to my car tires. I've been driving for over 30 years. Pitiful.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:54 AM on March 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


I have constantly felt like there was absolutely no explanation provided for how to actually operate in the educational system as a student. Almost like how I have read people on the Aspergers spectrum engage with emotions, is how I reflect on my experience of school, starting very early and following all the way through college.

I had no clue how my classmates gathered practical information about tracking their GPA, strategizing their goals, taking tests "correctly", and had to assume most of them were learning the techniques at home, because certainly they weren't coming up in the context of school itself.

This remains baffling to me, and I'm 31 now. I still have no clue how it works.
posted by odinsdream at 6:59 AM on March 8, 2015 [20 favorites]


Critical thinking wasn't something that I really learned until I went to back to college when I was nearly 30. As one of my professors put it, "In high school, you're taught NOT to think." Since it seems like a bad idea to teach a bunch of hormone fueled teenagers to question everything and think for themselves they just don't do it. I understand the motivation for it, even if I don't agree with it.

I've vowed to instill those real critical thinking skills into my future children early and often. It's been a vital skill for me when making decision or forming opinions. Being able to question myself helps me remain objective and keep my ego out of the equation.

After working as a 100% commission car sales person (with an income that can fluctuate wildly month to month), spending some time being somewhat poor, working as a retail banker in a bank branch, and finally earning a degree in finance, I have formed a LOT of opinions on about personal finance, budgeting, and investing.

I was still in banking when the ability to overdraft a checking account went to "opt-in" effectively meaning that people stopped being able to overdraw their accounts. Now, I get that the overdraft fees were unfair and stupid but you don't really need to know that much about the rules to avoid them. So I think it's really telling that we changed the law so that it became the bank's responsibility to tell you when you're out of money in your account instead of the account holder's.

Personal finance should be a mandatory course in high school of at least one semester and there should still be some quick introductions to a lot of the material earlier in grade school and/or junior high. I would teach multiple methods of budgeting since some people are pretty frugal and don't really need to keep track of every individual item. Instead, I set a starting balance of 1-month's expenses in my checking account. All of my purchases that can go on a credit card. Then, at the end of the month, I bring the checking account balance back to the same starting balance. The amount that get's transferred out is how much I saved (or excess expenses if money needs to get transferred in) and I can subtract that from the deposits to get my expenses for the month. I only get more detailed than that if things start to get outside of my goals.

The only "investment" stuff I was taught was a little bit about compound interest and we played a "stock market game" for a few weeks which is not nearly enough time to teach anyone anything about investing. It would be great if they taught kids some stuff in junior high, set up a stock market game and allowed mutual funds, bonds, and the like (I think investopedia.com will let people do this for free) and then everyone checks back in with their portfolio in the high school class. Some people would move to or away from the district afterwords but it would still be better than what they taught me.

I also wish I had been taught, as someone so eloquently wrote in another thread a while back, that "you don't go to college to be trained for a good job but to be trained to be a good citizen."

posted by VTX at 7:12 AM on March 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


ThatCanadianGirl: "I still don't know how to add air to my car tires. I've been driving for over 30 years. Pitiful."

My mother drove for forty years without ever learning to put gas in a car. Fortunately she lived in New Jersey for all that time.
posted by octothorpe at 7:30 AM on March 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


I wish my parents had actually taken the time to teach me personal finance. Their full advice on spending money was "Don't", and never was I ever sat down and had things explained. I plan to teach my son these skills when he is older.

As a result, my first few years out of college was spent stumbling along, occasionally overdrawing my checking, living hand to mouth. Eventually my wife and I realized that she is much better at budgeting (she now manages multi-million dollar grants), and she took over our family finances. I just check with her whenever I want to make a big purchase.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:36 AM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Information on paying taxes would have been nice. It's this huge, bureaucratic system that everyone will be participating in someday, and I never learned how to maneuver it. I didn't even know estimated taxes were a thing until a few years ago, and I have been making money tutoring and babysitting since I was 15.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:41 AM on March 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I still don't know how to add air to my car tires. I've been driving for over 30 years. Pitiful.

Even worse, I do know how to put air in my car tires, but have this giant irrational fear that I will either accidently let all of the air out, or explode my tire with too much air, so I never do it. I rely on the cycle of oil changes/tire changeovers and/or the odd visit from my brother/father. So embarrassing.

My students were bemoaning their lack of practical skills just last week. They said they'd love to have a basic home repair or basic car maintanance class as one of their gen ed requirements.
posted by TwoStride at 7:47 AM on March 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


Take the mean – not the average, but the mean.

What's the difference? Or what field are you in if these words mean different things to you?
posted by effbot at 7:50 AM on March 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


I was a senior in college before I really learned how to learn, instead of memorize. Learning how to learn is a subtle but tremendously important tool to add to the toolbox.
posted by JohnFromGR at 7:56 AM on March 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I wish that the basics of posture, motion, and bodily awareness were taught in PE.

Didn't your Mom tell you to sit up straight and pay attention?

When I was in grade 11 or 12, they taught us basic ballroom, square and some Latin dancing. I think that and Yoga would be all most of us need to get through adulthood and enjoy it.

But I agree with you - I've always thought they should teach basic (none of that filthy stuff!) human anatomy in biology or English, and then cover the motion and awareness part in PE. I've never had much luck at second-guessing the education system though.
posted by sneebler at 8:08 AM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I had to stop reading once I saw the word "their" used incorrectly.
posted by pxe2000 at 8:30 AM on March 8, 2015


This has me wanting to make a checklist of things Mrs. Ferg and I need to make sure to teach the small Fergs over the next 8-10 years. There is so much that was "just part of life on the farm" that I learned as a kid that my kids, growing up in suburbia, won't just pick up on without us explicitly making time to teach them.
posted by jferg at 8:47 AM on March 8, 2015


I think, at least in my case, the stuff I wish i knew was covered, either by parents or school, but not internalized for whatever reason. Whether that's the ADD, being a little shit, or just not being able put the information to use immediately and constantly.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:55 AM on March 8, 2015


I cock my eyebrow at an "Adult's Guide to Hygiene" whose section on "How to Shave Effectively" doesn't even mention shaving in and around one's Underwear Region.
posted by argonauta at 8:56 AM on March 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


Conditioner. My parents didn't believe in it for some reason.

My head itched so badly I was convinced I had lice.

I'm still miffed about it.
posted by kyrademon at 9:38 AM on March 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


The adult skills I really wish I'd acquired much earlier in life:
  • being able to throttle back my ego and acknowledge all the stuff I really didn't know how to do;
  • identifying people who actually did have skill and knowledge in those areas;
  • being able to approach them and ask them for help and instruction;
  • not subsequently believing I was worthless because I didn't already know how to do everything (see above re: ego).
    posted by Kat Allison at 9:42 AM on March 8, 2015 [21 favorites]


    I cock my eyebrow at an "Adult's Guide to Hygiene" whose section on "How to Shave Effectively" doesn't even mention shaving in and around one's Underwear Region.

    How to Shave Your Pubic Hair
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:44 AM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


    I cock my eyebrow at an "Adult's Guide to Hygiene" whose section on "How to Shave Effectively" doesn't even mention shaving in and around one's Underwear Region.

    TBH, I don't think this is something I would have wanted to learn either from a parent or from my 10th grade health class.
    posted by drlith at 9:48 AM on March 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


    A thing I learnt at the dentist's: If you are a slacker who is only going to brush her teeth once a day, doing it before bed is far superior to doing it in the morning. Because that means you have clean teeth while you sleep, instead of last night's dinner congealing on them.
    posted by egypturnash at 9:52 AM on March 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


    Literally anything about emotions. I grew up in an extremely emotionally repressed household, and might have had a shot at dealing with my own feelings better (i.e. not with drinking, drugs, disordered eating and self harm) if there had been another model represented at school.

    I realise this is getting closer to "is it really the state's job to teach kids this stuff", but I know enough people whose parents really weren't covering this stuff/covering it well that it feels like a reasonably big need.

    My boss' kids (both under ten) go to a fancy private school where they spend a lot of time teaching the kids how to recognise and process their own emotions - not sure if it's because the school is fancy or because it's twenty years on from my own schooling, probably both, but it seems like a really valuable thing to spend time on at school.
    posted by terretu at 9:54 AM on March 8, 2015 [15 favorites]


    Fortunately she lived in New Jersey for all that time.

    I have NEVER heard or read that sentence. EVER!
    posted by hal_c_on at 9:56 AM on March 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


    Sitting or standing ... we still don't have an answer.
    posted by cgk at 10:48 AM on March 8, 2015


    I cock my eyebrow at an "Adult's Guide to Hygiene" whose section on "How to Shave Effectively" doesn't even mention shaving in and around one's Underwear Region.

    It's a fraught topic. There are a lot of people who are going to say that women shaving their pubic hair should not be included in an article about basic, necessary hygiene skills in the way that brushing your teeth or using soap is.
    posted by triggerfinger at 10:50 AM on March 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


    I know we make fun of wikihow and educational films but it does seem like there's a real need out there
    posted by The Whelk at 10:59 AM on March 8, 2015


    In addition to personal finance, how to use your body and critical thinking, how to use basic tools. It's probably different now - I hope it's different now - but when I was in school, girls weren't given (or allowed to take, at least in my case) what we called "shop". I had college roommates who didn't know how to change a lightbulb, put out an oven fire, or reset a circuit breaker, not to mention what screwdriver to use or what to do with a wrench. It's hard to believe, but it's true, and not all THAT long ago.
    posted by still_wears_a_hat at 11:14 AM on March 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


    I wish I had been taught basic repairs and and handyman type skills in high school. There are so many irritating things around my house that I'm sure would be easy to fix if I knew where to start. And I seem to remember my high school having a shop classroom. I think they just stopped offering the actual class. Probably due to the ever present "Budget Cuts".
    posted by downtohisturtles at 11:37 AM on March 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


    Information on paying taxes would have been nice. It's this huge, bureaucratic system that everyone will be participating in someday, and I never learned how to maneuver it.

    Ugh, yes. It could totally be covered in the personal finance class that we seem to be ready to lobby for. Every year, about this time, my SO and I help her younger sister do her taxes (she is in her mid-20's). We seriously just tell her what to click on H&R Block's web-based program. And every year we have the exact same conversation.

    -A tax refund is not free money, it's your money. You've been lending it to the federal government for the last 12 months. If you have to pay in, it just means that your paychecks are a little larger than they probably should have been.

    -Tradition vs. Roth IRA. There isn't one that is "better" than the other and they have nothing at all to do with what those funds are invested in, just how they are treated tax-wise.

    Her parents had their accountant do her taxes for her for years and she seems to be convinced that if she does them by herself, she will screw it up and have to pay a huge penalty or end up in jail. But her family is very frugal about some things so I don't think she would pay a professional to do them. If we didn't help her file, I think she would just explode from anxiety.

    One year her employer screwed up and didn't withhold anything from her checks so she had to pay it all at once (and fortunately didn't have to pay a penalty). She was really pissed off about having to pay in $3,000 so she wrote the check really messily. Even after explaining that she basically got to hold onto that $3,000 interest free all year and without the IRS's permission and that, if it were up to me, that is the way I would do my taxes every year, she still didn't get it.

    And all of that is well before getting into how tax credits vs. deductions work and everything else.
    posted by VTX at 11:43 AM on March 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


    I appreciate that my parents each in their own way taught me a bunch of life skills. They didn't teach me all the skills, but enough to give me the confidence that other similar things could be figured out. I was expected to help with the task and that was how I learned.

    It was my older sister who sat me down with a 1040 and helped me do my taxes after my first adult job.
    posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:59 AM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Any guide to hygiene that doesn't address the sit/stand and fold/wad controversies is woefully lacking.
    posted by TedW at 12:33 PM on March 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


    Got a foreskin? Retract it and clean with soap when showering.

    Obvious to you? Great! But not got a foreskin, and bringing up someone who does? Might want to mention it, and you wouldn't know to do so, so putting it down here.
    posted by alasdair at 1:28 PM on March 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


    The one adult skill I was never taught growing up was that I had the right to refuse to learn the adult skills my parents were attempting to teach me, which were teaching me exactly the opposite.

    Example: My father thought I was a lazy 6 year old kid who needed to learn a work ethic. So he made me get a paper route. Rain or snow, warm or -20 below, I had to get up at 5AM and deliver those goddam newspapers. Result: I learned to hate work.
    posted by charlie don't surf at 1:48 PM on March 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


    You delivered papers when you were six?
    posted by jeff-o-matic at 1:50 PM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Yep.
    posted by charlie don't surf at 1:53 PM on March 8, 2015


    Holy shit, charlie. That explains so much.

    I keed, I keed
    posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:56 PM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


    That laziness is mostly about procrastination, negative perfectionism and fear of failure. Just the insight alone could have saved me a lot of anxiety and self-doubt. Learning how to deal with these issues? Unimaginable.
    posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:02 PM on March 8, 2015 [14 favorites]


    I think that one reason some parents don't teach their kids life skills is the inevitable waste, chaos and mistakes that will be made in the process. My own parents really didn't like putting up with that, and had a horror of wasted anything (based upon their own Depression childhoods), so it was easier for them to just do it themselves, and save themselves the trouble of standing over me to be sure a chore was done right (it was easier and faster for mom to do it herself! What if the kid does the laundry and ruins something and OMG we might have to Spend Actual Money to replace it - it's so much easier to do it ourselves!), or allowing me to experiment with fixing things or making meals if something "perfectly good" might have to be thrown out or replaced.

    Then, of course, my parents were so bewildered as to why I grew up lacking skills. Apparently I was supposed to just molt my cocoon and burst forth into fully formed responsible adulthood.

    Now for parents who really are poor, it might be an actual hardship to have to throw out food or have extra cleaning products down the drain, I can see that. But for parents who can afford it, I say you have to suck it up and accept that kids are not going to know how to do things perfectly without lots of practice, and stuff will get wasted, thrown out, or done inefficiently in the process. Kids learn by doing.
    posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:13 PM on March 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


    I think that an article on basic hygiene really needs to mention handwashing.
    You'd think it wasn't necessary, and oh... how I wish that were true.
    posted by Too-Ticky at 2:31 PM on March 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


    I still haven't mastered the art of shaving. I still haven't figured out how to tie a tie properly, wear a dress shirt, choose formal clothes in a way that makes me look as put-together as the men in GQ do. I'm still uncertain about how to style my hair in the best way. I still don't know how to choose a personal cologne in a methodical way beyond "I think this smells OK." My posture is awful. I still deal with acne. I have ashy skin. I'm 33. It's beyond me how I've even made it this far but I don't feel like I have the skills of an adult, in about five dozen ways.

    Beyond all that, I wish my schooling or parents had taught how to deal with work-related ennui. Wait, I'm serious. I think it's an incredibly valuable skill to be able to do boring things, every day, for decades. How does everyone do this? What innate skill do they possess that I don't? I feel burned out and I've only been in the work force for 7 years. I think we need this. Isn't the end result of all this education to obtain a job? So how do you deal with having and keeping a job without going insane? How did our parents and grandparents manage it? I barely have a clue.
    posted by naju at 2:45 PM on March 8, 2015 [14 favorites]


    My own parents really didn't like putting up with that, and had a horror of wasted anything (based upon their own Depression childhoods), so it was easier for them to just do it themselves, and save themselves the trouble of standing over me to be sure a chore was done right.

    Yep. My parents are both extremely organized, type-A, have-a-plan-for-everything people. They're also both supremely, almost unconsciously competent at what they do. Result: anything that needed doing, they got it done. I never got the hang of doing things like cleaning my room well enough for their super-organized standards, so I just never bothered to do it at all. I'm in my 30s now and and a homeowner and I still don't really grok what you do in terms of chores and timeframes to be an averagely-competent adult in an averagely-clean house. Instead I just spot-clean and then hire a cleaner twice a year, when it gets really unbearable. Similarly, my dad's a great handyman. That means that when I need something done around the house, I just call him and he adds it to his to-do-when-I-visit-Seahorses list. I'd like to learn to do stuff like that myself, but when the choices are "have dad do it right" and "ask dad to teach me, and then I understandably screw it up because it would be my first time trying it", it's just easier for both of us to let him keep doing the stuff he does. I can't work a lawnmower, change a tire, check my oil, or build a fence, because those things came so naturally to my father that it didn't occur to him that they had to be explained.

    It seems like there's a sweet spot between parents who have no idea how to do things - whose children often grow up also not knowing how to do them - and parents who are super-competent at those things - whose children also often grow up not knowing them because when Mom & Dad do it better, Mom & Dad just do it. In the middle, I guess you find the parents actually teaching the skills involved in doing the things, because doing them is still a little bit of a conscious thing in the parents' minds. My mom grew up extremely poor, and when I was a child my parents had just gotten to that money-skills-vs-income stage where if you're really careful, there's enough money to go around, but you have to pay attention to it. Grocery shopping with mom thus involved an unusual amount of care: check the sale flyers, make a meal plan based on what you can get cheaply this week, then a list using the least-expensive brand of ingredients (which may or may not be the one that's "on sale", remember to check unit prices!), then pick things out at the store (buy generic when possible!), then mentally ration any treats that could be added to the cart (ok, we can eke out a candy bar, but definitely not three types of cookies), then double-check the math, then check out and bag for ourselves. As an adult, grocery shopping is one of the few adult-y skills I'm both really good at and that I enjoy.

    Other than groceries, though, the life skills I actually retained from my parents are almost all of the less-concrete, more-emotional type. How to read people and respond appropriately. How to tip, how to treat people, how to dress and speak to fit in in a given situation. How to be angry without hurting yourself or others. These are the things I actually watched my parents - both of whom had upbringings where they had to teach themselves a lot of those skills - work through, or sometimes even had them narrate to me as they did them. We joke as adults about parents who constantly prompt their children to say "please" and "thank you" and stuff, but there's definitely something to be said for parents not only passively modelling life skills, but also reinforcing them and breaking down the steps involved.
    posted by Hold your seahorses at 3:19 PM on March 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


    Personal finance. I think it should be taught as a separate class in senior high school. Taxes, salaries, insurance, mortgages, loans, etc. I can't recall even five minutes ever spent on teaching me these things in school.
    posted by zardoz at 4:10 AM on March 8 [48 favorites +] [!]


    In my high school (graduated in 1986), it was insidiously worse.

    You see, there was a personal finance class. It was called "Consumer Math." But this class was designed for the unpopular and dumb kids. Anyone not considered college-bound. Stoners, burn outs, athletes, losers and anyone with mild learning deficiencies (/me waves) that couldn't hack anything beyond basic algebra and geometry.

    The thinking was, if you were college-bound, then you were on the track that led you to trig and calculus. And if you could understand a quadratic equation, you were probably smart enough to figure out a mortgage on your own. But the "stupid" kids needed to have banking and interest rates explained to them, right?

    So, the stupid kids got the most useful education, but they're, you know, stupid, so the Consumer Math teachers were also the football coaches. How'd that turn out? Use your imagination.

    Meanwhile, the other half of the math department was churning out kids that aced AP Calculus, but who would get their asses kicked by used-car salesmen.
    posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:24 PM on March 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


    How about networking? My entire career is basically DOA because I don't know how to comfortably talk to strangers and get my name out there.
    posted by kafziel at 3:36 PM on March 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


    If you're a woman, don't wash your junk with soap. You're just asking for serial UTIs and yeast infections when you fuck up your pH.

    Actually, you don't need to wash any body part with soap at all (well, except hands, duh), unless you're trying to remove something gross like motor oil or sunscreen. That oil layer on your skin? It's supposed to be there. Running water is perfectly good at removing the day's crud from your skin, because your skin oil helps it release.
    posted by toodleydoodley at 3:37 PM on March 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


    > "Running water is perfectly good at removing the day's crud from your skin"

    LIES

    In all seriousness, not everybody is the same, and I really wish people would stop saying things like this like they were universal truths. If I do not use soap the crud Does. Not. Leave.
    posted by kyrademon at 3:49 PM on March 8, 2015 [19 favorites]


    Everything I needed to know, I learned from Mr. Foxx.
    posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:50 PM on March 8, 2015


    Before you move out on your own, you should know how to cook at least 3-4 healthy dinners. I grew up eating Taco Bell and microwaved hotdogs and it messed up my eating habits for a very long time. I cook almost every night now, but there's still a lot I have to learn that other people seem to just magically know.
    posted by desjardins at 3:52 PM on March 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


    Beyond all that, I wish my schooling or parents had taught how to deal with work-related ennui. Wait, I'm serious. I think it's an incredibly valuable skill to be able to do boring things, every day, for decades. How does everyone do this?

    alcohol
    posted by desjardins at 3:54 PM on March 8, 2015 [15 favorites]


    In all seriousness, not everybody is the same, and I really wish people would stop saying things like this like they were universal truths. If I do not use soap the crud Does. Not. Leave.

    Yes. If you're talking like the backs of my arms or whatever, maybe, but water without soap in the Problem Areas will just leave me itchy and feeling gross.
    posted by kafziel at 4:01 PM on March 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


    Two things,

    Do not use your hand as a hammer to move wrenches ect.

    Wear knee pads when working on your knees for any length of time.
    posted by boilermonster at 4:16 PM on March 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


    We had classes on budgeting a lot at school in New Zealand in the 80s. The only one I really remember the details of is in primary school, when they gave us a budget of something like $100 a week in pretend money, and we had to look through the local paper to find a place to rent, and look through the local supermarket advertising and cut out enough items of food to feed a family for the whole week, and add up all the costs and keep it under the $100. It was hard. But also good practice for arithmetic, I guess.

    In retrospect, it would have been a cool lesson on social inequality (and maybe the importance of education) if they had combined that with Fraula's class exercise, and instead of us all having $100 to spend, doled out different amounts depending on which career you picked out of a hat.
    posted by lollusc at 4:23 PM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


    We also had classes on basic cooking. (Okay, in reality, we learned to make lasagne and homemade ice cream, but that combination will set you up well for most of your 20s, at least). And sewing (for both boys and girls). That's where we learned about how much blood comes out of a finger when the sewing machine runs the needle through it.

    And woodworking and metalworking, which I have literally never used since. Oh no, wait, I used the trick we learned in woodworking about how you can use brown shoe-polish as wood stain to repair a bookcase once.

    Sex ed was okay, if a bit too little too late. (Teacher: "What do you think the first question might be that you should ask someone you want to have sex with?" Student: "Which holes do you prefer?") We learned a lot about hygiene too. ("Wash between your legs every day or you will get crotch rot. Yes, that's a real disease. And here's some free deodorant. Start using it.")

    I'm starting to feel really grateful for my (state school) education. I can't think of much in terms of life skills that I didn't learn at school and did need to know later. There was quite a lot in terms of school skills that was lacking, though. Like, how to choose a university. Or how to pay for university. (Hint: scholarships actually exist). Or that universities have rankings, so you shouldn't pick them based on things like how pretty the campus is. Or that careers exist beyond truck driver (if you are male and can't pass exams), secretary (if you are female and can't pass exams), vet (if you can), doctor (if you like science) or lawyer (if you like arts).
    posted by lollusc at 4:32 PM on March 8, 2015


    It's a fraught topic. There are a lot of people who are going to say that women shaving their pubic hair should not be included in an article about basic, necessary hygiene skills in the way that brushing your teeth or using soap is.

    Absolutely -- and I agree. To me it's odd that they included a shaving section at all (and skipped ears and feet, for example). The premise seems to be: "Of all the things you might've missed growing up, there are few that could actually draw blood if you do it wrong, but shaving is one of them." For what it's worth, I had men AND women in mind as adults who might need information on shaving other areas and were likely Never Taught That Growing Up (especially by their parents ((shudder))). The article already addresses women shaving their legs, also quite optional, and... I dunno, it just seemed like an oversight given that many adults do it (95%(!) of college students in this study) and there are real health risks.

    I have no idea why I'm thinking about this so much. But be safe out there, y'all!

    (I think maybe I also just wanted the chance to say "cock.")
    posted by argonauta at 5:11 PM on March 8, 2015


    Literally anything about emotions. I grew up in an extremely emotionally repressed household, and might have had a shot at dealing with my own feelings better (i.e. not with drinking, drugs, disordered eating and self harm) if there had been another model represented at school.

    That's a really good one. I'd add 'emotional validation' i.e. that one someone feels something it's not 'stupid'. It's how they feel. How they feel is important. It's looked at through a private lens. Their private lens is different than your private lens. Learn that those two things coexist.

    Would have done me a world of good.

    Financial stuff is good. I am the CFO at our house and I recently came to the realization that in allocating funds to X and Y and spending funds on A and B, we are paying taxes. Our house is a tiny little community. I'm not all that great at it, but I am learning. Seeing our family as a small village has been really useful to me as I learn how to handle this role; prioritizing pools of money, allocating for this, rejecting that; and then handing it back to the 'board' (me and Mr. Llama) for further discussion.

    Money gives Mr. Llama heebie jeebies, so those are short conversations. It's fine, it's a good thing for me to know how to do and I'm willing to do it and operationally minded, and it just makes him want to lie down with cold compress on his head.
    posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:46 PM on March 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


    I cock my eyebrow at an "Adult's Guide to Hygiene" whose section on "How to Shave Effectively" doesn't even mention shaving in and around one's Underwear Region.

    I see what you did there, argonauta
    posted by univac at 6:10 PM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


    To me it's odd that they included a shaving section at all

    Not odd at all; for a man, shaving your face is a basic necessary skill on the level of brushing your teeth. For most jobs, especially professional jobs, you're expected to be either clean-shaven or have a well-kept beard, and not meeting that expectation can harm you.

    On that note, for professional jobs, there should be a Professional Attire 101 course that teaches you how to tie a tie, how to wear a suit, how a suit is supposed to fit, etc. Also stuff like what "business casual" usually means.

    I see so many guys looking either like slobs or like they're wearing their dad's clothes. It may be dumb but people notice that stuff and being "that guy who can't dress himself" isn't going to help you.
    posted by Sangermaine at 7:50 PM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


    I'm pretty sure that half of the reason that I became a computer science major in school was that learning programming seemed easier than learning to tie a tie.
    posted by octothorpe at 7:55 PM on March 8, 2015


    That you will never finish all the things you have to do at work. So you have to prioritize. We tell our kids they can complete their homework but that's not how adults get to operate
    posted by mdoar at 8:20 PM on March 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


    I don't exactly consider it a necessary adult skill, but I am still bitter that we were never actually taught how to play team sports in my gym classes. Even as early as elementary school, it was "OK, today we are playing baseball/basketball/volleyball!" and then we were supposed to just do it. It wasn't even a learn-by-doing sort of thing, either--stopping to ask questions or try to figure out what was going on resulted in getting yelled at. Come to think of it, this was the case for all the gym class skills. No instruction or tips or coaching, just "do a pushup" and "do a pullup" and "climb the rope" and "run as fast as you can" etc. It was so discouraging and frustrating.
    posted by rhiannonstone at 8:48 PM on March 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


    I'm pretty sure that half of the reason that I became a computer science major in school was that learning programming seemed easier than learning to tie a tie.

    Or using a zipper -- most of the computer science guys when I was in school wore sweatpants every day.
    posted by Dip Flash at 8:50 PM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Can someone enlighten me with the whole shaved pubes thing? In the TMI department, I had hernia surgery a couple decades ago and got a thorough shave for it. The itching as the hair grew back in was INSANE. I don't see how these kids put up with it.
    posted by Ber at 8:50 PM on March 8, 2015


    Can someone enlighten me with the whole shaved pubes thing? In the TMI department, I had hernia surgery a couple decades ago and got a thorough shave for it. The itching as the hair grew back in was INSANE. I don't see how these kids put up with it.

    Your experience sounds fairly normal. From the "95%(!) of college students in this study" link: Around 80 percent of people who removed their pubes reported “genital itching” at least once over the past four weeks. 12 percent said that they felt itchy every time they remove their pubes. Nearly half (45 percent) of all pubic hair removal was associated with some sort of “genital rash.”

    Whether the benefits outweigh the itching is a more individual question, I would think.
    posted by Dip Flash at 9:11 PM on March 8, 2015


    The itching as the hair grew back in was INSANE.

    Don't let it grow back. ;)

    Not only do I shave my crotch, I also shave my stomach, armpits, shoulders (fairly minimal), and occasionally my legs.

    You do it for a while, and it stops itching, at least in my experience. Good lotion helps.

    I find all the young dudes with shaved chests more amazing.

    For me it was the chest that was unbearable.. I have a hairy chest, and shaving it was difficult. It grew back quickly and was very itchy. I won't ever shave it again unless required.

    As far as hygiene goes, I'm most curious about soap and whether or not it damages sensitive linings, e.g your anus. I was taught to always use soap to clean my private parts well, but I am reconsidering.
    posted by mrgrimm at 9:50 PM on March 8, 2015


    there are real health risks.

    Read both those links ... while the risks may be "real" they seem rather insignificant.
    posted by mrgrimm at 9:54 PM on March 8, 2015


    No one has mentioned transcendental meditation yet? I rejected religion as a child; I think TM would have been an incredible asset.

    I also really wish someone would have given me honest sex education.
    posted by mrgrimm at 9:57 PM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Maybe teach kids that life isn't a porn video on the internet so you don't have to try to perform like those people or look like those people. I don't think it's an accident that complete removal of pubic hair has become so prevalent in the last 15 years.
    posted by Justinian at 11:53 PM on March 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


    the math department was churning out kids that aced AP Calculus, but who would get their asses kicked by used-car salesmen.

    'Buying a car without getting screwed on credit payments/fake extras/percentage rates/monthly payments/term/warranty bullshit etc' would be a great class.

    I believe car salesmen work something called 'the grid' on you, where they can vary all the finance parameters as you're talking so that you are always one step behind.
    posted by colie at 1:46 AM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


    I actually took it ... but TYPING. It is a skill that has flipped from inversely correlated to professional status (big dudes dictated or scrawled on pads) to positively correlated with prodessional status (big dudes spend large portions of their days writing email and/or coding) ... the productivity margin of touch typing is amazing.
    posted by MattD at 4:23 AM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


    Yeah, the only kids in my high school who took typing were girls who weren't going to college and wanted to get secretarial jobs. I took it because I wanted to code faster but I was almost the only guy in the room and to this day quite a few of my friends from high school and college can't touch-type.

    My freshman roommate is now a tenured university professor but still can't type with more than two fingers.
    posted by octothorpe at 4:38 AM on March 9, 2015


    I actually took it ... but TYPING. It is a skill that has flipped from inversely correlated to professional status (big dudes dictated or scrawled on pads) to positively correlated with prodessional status (big dudes spend large portions of their days writing email and/or coding) ... the productivity margin of touch typing is amazing.

    Huh, to me this... it wasn't nearly as silly as learning cursive (yes I am opening that can of worms on purpose) but various adults tried very hard to get me to type "properly" as a kid and I never did. But from years of using a computer I just kind of ended up with my own method of touch typing, which is more than adequately fast even though I make poor use of the pinkies and put my hands kind of wherever the hell I want. If typing "only" 60 WPM was a rate limiting factor in my work as a programmer I wouldn't be writing very good code.

    I kind of assumed this is how a lot of kids in the first Internet generation have turned out. I don't know, maybe I'm going to end up with horrible carpal tunnel some day.
    posted by atoxyl at 5:13 AM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


    I learned to type myself, then in high school we were given a few typing courses. But I could never switch to the proper method. This paid dividends a decade later when I lost the use of one finger and could easily reallocate the letters on that hand.
    posted by jeather at 6:29 AM on March 9, 2015


    When I was in middle school, we all got a basic computers course which involved both a spirited effort to teach us all proper typing and also basic proficiency with MS Office. The Office training was useful, but I mostly ignored the 'right' way of typing in favor of developing my own idiosyncratic style too, which was (and is) faster than the way the program they trained us on wanted me to do it.

    Also, cursive was a fucking waste of time. Are they still teaching it in schools?
    posted by sciatrix at 6:42 AM on March 9, 2015


    'Buying a car without getting screwed on credit payments/fake extras/percentage rates/monthly payments/term/warranty bullshit etc' would be a great class.

    You know, I hate hate HATE public speaking but if a high school teacher asked me to come talk to their class about how to buy a car (I used to be a car salesman) I would strongly consider it. If every high-school class was taught how to buy a car it would probably make things easier for the students to buy their 1st car and it would a lot easier on the salespeople that sell it to them.

    I only ever sold one car to someone that was buying their first car who wasn't with a parent or someone else who had bought cars before. I was an honest salesperson at an honest dealership. The kid got a good deal but he was (understandably) anxious the whole time and the whole thing took far longer than it needed to. Even the people who brought an "expert" with them were a huge PITA.

    So if you're a high school teacher who knows a former car salesperson, ask them to come teach your classes how to buy a car.
    posted by VTX at 8:27 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    I will tell you one thing that my parents did better than most: they taught me how to be a good pet owner. My maternal grandmother (who was at my house every day, and basically helped raise me) was a pet person (she even bred Siamese cats for a time when my mom was a teen), my mom was a pet person, and she converted my dad into being a born-again pet person. They were so good at modeling animal care, and I didn't get my first "on my own all my responsibility" cat thinking she'd be an animated stuffed animal who would never need spaying, run up vet bills, or claw the furniture. I know better than to walk up to a strange dog and pet it without permission (it's not just kids who do that - I've seen adults do it too). I'm grateful to my parents for modeling good pet-parenthood and teaching me the same, and I'm sure my animals (who my mom called her "grand-kitties") are happy, as well.
    posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:27 AM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


    My middle school made everyone take typing. I nearly failed the class because I completely goofed off on all the exercises, but I did absorb how to position my hands on the keyboard and the location of the keys. I now type about 70 wpm.

    (Also, they taught us on these really old-style typewriters, which were under the desks. You'd like flip the desk around, and there would be a typewriter. This was in the mid-90s, by the way.)
    posted by breakin' the law at 2:25 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    I took typing at high school (we learned on electric typewriters, as the school had like two computers total). I feel like it was one of the most useful classes I took, even though I only did it for a year, which was plenty long enough to become a competent touch-typist, which was my only aim in taking the class. The only sad thing was that we spent very little time on the less common punctuation and symbols, so I still have to double-check the keyboard for most of them, and since I do a lot of programming nowadays, I use them a lot.

    (At parent-teacher day my typing teacher tried to convince my parents to make me keep taking it, lamenting that all the "smart kids" took one year of typing and then abandoned her to use those stolen skills in pursuits other than being a secretary.)
    posted by lollusc at 7:07 PM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Also, they taught us on these really old-style typewriters, which were under the desks. You'd like flip the desk around, and there would be a typewriter.

    I took a typing class in high school, and the BIG REWARD at the end of the year, with weeks of build up, was to type a page of what would now be called ASCII art, with the teacher reading off instructions: "five spaces, type 'X', return, two spaces..."

    It's a skill I still use every day, but man that was a let-down.
    posted by Dip Flash at 7:26 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    My personal favourite thing that I've started doing lately, hygiene-wise, is, after brushing (at an angle) and flossing (using a little plastic device thing, as floss has never worked properly for me) you set yourself up with:

    - A shot of 3% hydrogen peroxide with 3-5 drops of tea tree oil

    Use this as a mouthwash/gargle and you will have no morning breath. Super great fun time! Don't swallow it or you will die.
    posted by turbid dahlia at 5:16 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


    My high school health teacher would go on at length about the menfolk and their disturbing, nigh-pedophilic preference for shaved/waxed women. She was a freakin' rock star.
    posted by duffell at 12:35 PM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


    « Older “Mission accomplished!”   |   "We need to challenge the assumption that more is... Newer »


    This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments