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Essential Life Skills That Should Be Taught In Schools

Updated on January 11, 2012
Is studying hard enough?
Is studying hard enough? | Source

How many of us really know what to expect of the real world when we leave school?  Don't you wish that we had been taught about what to expect when we start our lives in the outside world?  Up to that point in time, our world had been exams, friends, and more exams.  Some of us would have known a little romance, and perhaps even found true love.  But for all the skills and knowledge that we learn in school, we are largely left totally unprepared when we join the workforce and start our lives in the real world.

This article lists three of what I believe are the more important subjects.  You can call it a wish list of what I wish I had known when I left school.  Get all three right, and you might just lead a charmed life.  Get them wrong, and life might just become a bit of a struggle.


Personal Finance

This really needs to be just a very simple lesson - that the amount you spend cannot exceed the amount that you earn.  This is actually so simple that some will say that it is common sense and does not even need to be taught.  But, time and again, we see many individuals getting into trouble when they spend more than they can afford, and the interest on the loans they take up snowballs out of control.

We actually even see governments doing the same thing.  While you can spend more than you earn for a while, and I would agree that it might even be necessary for growth in some situations, it cannot be sustained in the long term.  Easy credit is attractive and does have its place in the economy, but abuse of it can ruin your whole life.


Making Money

I'm not talking so much about the hard skills needed to make money, like a doctor having to be well versed in the intricacies of the human body, but more about the mechanics of how money is made.  I'm talking about the difference of how money is made when you are working for it and when you are running a business.

When you are working for a living, you are essentially exchanging your time for money.  This is true regardless of whether you are a daily rated worker, or you get paid a monthly salary.  Your employer pays you for your time, during which you are expected to make more money for him, or be worth more to him, than the money he pays you.  He takes the risk of an uncertain but potentially greater payoff, while you run a lower risk but also have a lower payoff.

When you are running a business, the roles are reversed.  Your employees are exchanging their time for a guaranteed income from you.  You can potentially make a lot of money, but the returns are not guaranteed and there is a good chance that you will lose all your money.

Another way of making money is through the passive income model.  We are all familiar with one form of passive income, which is the interest we get from our bank deposits.  In fact, there are many other forms of passive income which, as a school leaver, most are probably do not know of.  Among these are dividend income from stocks, rental income from property, income from multilevel sales structures, etc.


Communication

So much of communication is actually miscommunication.  We say one thing and it's taken to mean another, or a colleague says another thing and we take it to mean something she never intended.  Sometimes the wrong words are used, or we listen from the wrong angle, or we simply misinterpreted a certain action, or...a thousand and one other possibilities.  At times, I feel that it is amazing that 2 human beings can come together and cooperate successfully.

It will be a very valuable life skill to be able to communicate effectively.  The key would be to be able to say what you want to clearly and directly, without any hidden meanings, in such a way that leaves the other party no room for misinterpretation.

Similarly, we must also be able to listen effectively.  We must be able to listen to what is said, interpret it accordingly, and if needed, confirm with the speaker that the correct message has been received.

I seriously feel that if everybody makes an attempt to do this, and if this is a skill taught in schools, the world would definitely be a better place.


Conclusion

Needless to say, there are hundreds of other subjects that can be included in such a list.  Off the top of my head, I can think of subjects like relationships, family, children, personal development, investing, and saving for retirement.  Even comparatively trivial subjects like how to cook and clean, and how to do simple household repairs might make a difference to a school leaver who have never done such things.

I think our schools are too focused on teaching the hard skills needed to make a living.  They do a great job of it but it would be great if some time can be set aside for the skills needed to make a life.  I mean, all the money in the world is useless if you are alone, unhappy and does not live life with a purpose.

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