14/08/2014 16:58 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

What Our Children Should Be Taught In School

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When I left school I had a handful of GCSEs and three A-Levels in English, Media Studies and Biology. Only one of these I use on a regular basis, and that's because it's the language I speak. The closest I get to Media Studies is browsing Netflix, and I tap into the dregs of my biological knowledge...well, never.

Statistically, because I have higher education qualifications, I am classed as possessing a certain level of intelligence. However, in managing day-to-day life, I'm completely and utterly thick. I wouldn't know what to do if a fuse blew in my house. I have a toolbox which contains a couple of screwdrivers and a few old nails, and if I ever attempt DIY the rest of my family literally has to leave the house for fear of injury. The argument over who should be teaching these things is neither here nor there, but the fact of the matter is I was never taught any of these skills in school. What use is an A-Level in biology when my car grinds to a shuddering, smokey halt at the side of the road?

And so, here are - in my opinion - five things which should be taught in schools up and down the country as a matter of course...

Conflict Resolution

Every day we will have discussions with friends, family, strangers and colleagues, and in some of those discussions there will be differences of opinion. Sometimes they are over and done with in minutes, but other arguments can rumble on for weeks, sometimes longer, causing both sides immeasurable grief and stress.

So why not teach our children how to engage in rational, respectful conflict resolution when disagreements inevitably arise? You would eliminate the majority of screaming and shouting, replacing it with skills such as reason, persuasion and compromise. As well as helping during their working lives, understanding that arguments can be resolved without doors being slammed and voices raised is vital for our children to understand.

Personal Finance Management

You don't need me to remind you about the recession of the last few years, caused - in part, at least - by people borrowing more than they can afford to repay and taking out loans without fully understanding the implications. Terms such as APR, interest, inflation and so on baffle many of us, which can have risky consequences.

If our children were taught how to responsibly manage their finances and understand basic accounting terms, then we would breed a generation of adults who knew how to live within their means - and possibly avoid another global financial crisis.

Basic DIY

I've already touched on this, so will avoid labouring the point: but knowing how to change a fuse, re-wire a socket or repair a broken pipe would be handy skills for our children. In addition, the basic mechanical workings of a car should be taught, so that on the odd occasion that a tyre does burst or a radiator overheats then the driver would know how to change the wheel whatever you do when a radiator overheats. (See? Case in point.)

Balanced Diet

Our children are taught all about the different food groups, what's healthy, and what isn't. However, what they are not told is the importance of a balanced diet; instead, they have it drummed into them how greens are good, fruit is good, and everything else is bad. The reality is that the occasional fast food or calorie-laden pizza is not the end of the world. Children should be taught the importance of eating everything in moderation, and - just as importantly - combining it with regular exercise. And enough of this 'everyone's a winner' nonsense: healthy competition is good, and learning how to take the disappointment of losing as well as to be humble when winning is just as important as the exercise itself.


With the cost of fruit and vegetables increasing rapidly, why not teach our children how to be self-sufficient and grow their own greens? Knowing which time of year to plant vegetables and how to cultivate them will encourage healthy eating and save our children valuable cash, which they can then spend on something they love; as long as they spend responsibly, of course. It's a good job they're taught personal finance management in schools, isn't it...?

What else would you add?

More on Parentdish: What should your children be able to do and at what age?