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What They Didn’t Teach You At School And Why That’s Hurting You Now

Wait, they didn’t tell me about this at school

This might sound a bit (or very) rant like but as I age and reflect on my own education, and that of which younger people I meet today receive. I come to realise that education institutes are failing us.

You might be thinking, how?

You’ve got your degree and feel like it’s mission accomplished.

Yes, your education establishment might have helped you get knowledge in a subject of your choosing but they all do a pretty crap job of setting you up for life.

And, for me, this is where the education system fails us.

Too much focus on pass rates and not enough on setting up people for the everyday navigation of life. Surely, this is the exact point of an education establishment? to set up the future generations.

In my own experiences and from what I’ve seen in working with graduates over the last decade, there are many fundamentals missing that one needs in order to navigate the basics of life.

Here’s some stuff that I wish my education gave me but didn’t:

  • Personal finance: A crash course on the basics would have been such a big plus.
  • How to cook (and I mean real food, not scones or some sugar induced cake).
  • Understanding the importance of mental wellbeing and why we shouldn’t believe everything we think.
  • The importance of nutrition and physical movement for life.
  • How to really listen and communicate with other humans.
  • Basic digital skills in everyday tools that millions of organisations use.

I would also add more basic stuff (in my eyes) like how to write a cv, prepare for an interview and time management skills.

The list could go on for me but I don’t want to seem like a complete old moaner before I’ve reached the end of this.

What has become clear to me, especially in the last 7 years of my career, is that organisations are having to pick up the slack and play some part in forming better functioning humans.

Higher education seems so intent on imposing order on us, that they forget to teach the basic functions of people skills that everyone needs to survive. 

No advice on how to build a profile, cv or how to navigate the job market. No actual guidance on how getting and starting a career works in the real world.

Just a lovely bit of paper, saying thanks for your £60k debt and out the door you go (can you feel my cynicism?).

What could the difference in our younger generations look like today if Higher Ed taught some of these basic life fundamentals?

Basic things like how to navigate the field of our own thoughts and simple finance management can go a long way to building an environment for someone’s success.

Yet, most of these places aren’t interested in long-term success. They forget the people at the core of these experiences.

Companies are inheriting people who might be academically astute but by no means are they ready for the practicalities of many careers today.

The ability to manage one’s time, converse to a basic level and manage energy are all but lost on the poor souls who are thrown into the sometimes unforgiving world of work.

What can we do to improve this?

Let’s get to some solutions.

First off, I believe schools and Higher Education establishments need to provide more education on basic life skills to their students.

Some might say it’s not their responsibility. But, I beg to differ when we put these places on a pedestal as creating functioning humans for the future and hand off massive amounts of investment that many of us spend a good chunk of our lives paying off.

A mandatory focus on setting people up for success in the early parts of their career is essential.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve sat in on conversations with graduates who quite quickly pick up how their education has not equipped them for some of the basic day to day requirements of working life.

Yes, they will eventually learn this but probably after crashing around several times which I’m sure could be avoided.

I’m fully aware that I have a number of educators reading this post and please know this is not me bashing you in anyway.

What I feel frustration with is the system that exists today.

Which I believe doesn’t have the best interests of future generations at heart. In my eyes, it’s far more focused on profits than progress for the next generation.

This is part of the reason why I wanted to work in workplace learning.

I wanted to do my own bit in at least creating the environment and opportunities for people to acquire these skills. And, with Steal These Thoughts, I continue this with sharing my solo thoughts and tips on building some of what I’ve mentioned.

I do think leading organisations have a part to play in this too.

Mostly with improved relationships with educational establishments to give them the real world view of what’s required. Which we know is much more than just a degree.

When people enter the workforce for the first time, organisations most certainly have the burden to pick up some of the slack as I mentioned. But, as their careers evolve, it’s also their responsibility.

Some stuff that might help us build life skills

First off, check out this list of things we wish we were taught in school but weren’t by Lifehacker. This is an example of one of the thousands that exist out there.

From my own slice of the digital highway, theses pieces of content might be of use:

And, as a bonus, you can listen to a conversation I had with Neil Mosley, who is an experienced digital learning professional that has worked with some of the leading universities on planet earth.

We spoke about the state of the educational system today, lessons from the pandemic and much more

As always, these are just my thoughts and I’m always open to discussion. Do reach out to me on my social channels to let me know your thoughts.

Before you go… 👋

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