Photo by Tyler Meuter

A couple of months ago, I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw a post that had a couple lines of dialogue between a student and the school system. The student would ask, “How do I file my taxes?” and the school system would respond, “Worry not, the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.” More like: “worry not, just know these details that are irrelevant to functioning as a normal, successful, independent adult and you will be fine.”

Though a hilarious and ironic post, I think we can all relate to the underlying truth that school does not teach us the essentials we need to live life and survive on our own. Sure, maybe we are supposed to learn these life skills from our parents, but I am guessing that the majority of us have not. It is disappointing to see our generation become subject to drilling a plethora of details and equations instead of critical life survival skills. We are able to solve the hardest equations, yet we do not know how to file our taxes.

School is ultimately a way to update your status in comparison to everyone else such as “high school graduate,” “college student” or “Ph.D. student.” Getting these “updates” furthers you towards reaching career goals, but it does not directly correlate to capability of living as an independent individual.

As a college student at Tech, are you able to cook a fully nutritious meal without relying on instant or microwaveable packages? Can you pay for tuition, car loans or house payments? Are you able to file taxes and government-related paperwork on your own?

Lacking these skills does not necessarily indicate a failure to be independent. Many of us have come to Tech from different states or even different countries. For many, living in an
entirely different place shows that capability of being an independent individual. But after graduating college, will you have learned the skills necessary to be able to find a job, buy a house and car, maintain finances and be responsible for your health and safety?

It is time that our school systems and programs require teaching basic life skills in the classroom. For instance, driver’s education could have a session on changing tires or performing simple car maintenance or even a crash course (no pun intended) on what to do when the car breaks down. Economics courses could start to include information about tax forms and how to fill them out.

Japan exemplifies these goals. Starting as early as elementary school, Japanese students are required to take multiple home economics courses which teach a number of various basic skills in maintaining the household, such as cooking, sewing and cleaning. In addition, most schools require students to clean the classrooms after school on a regular basis. By having the students learn these essential skills, they allow them to be able to grow into independent adults who are aware and appreciative of their environment and are able to take care of themselves.

As Tech students, we are already all very bright, hardworking and independent individuals. However, there are some things that your quantum mechanics and organic chemistry classes cannot teach. If we are to become successful, independent, and contributive individuals in our society, we must correct this flagrant gap in our education for our sake and that of the future generation.