Looking back at high school, all I can think to myself is: what a complete freaking waste. To be fair, I wasn’t a very motivated student back in those days — I spent more time playing poker and smooching under stairwells than I’d care to admit.
Nonetheless, the time that I did manage to spend in the classroom seemed to be just as much of a waste as the time I spent avoiding walking into the classroom. There is a level of importance in the act of learning itself that is very beneficial — training one’s brain in any trade or specific skill is of great benefit to the brain itself.
I am a big advocate of exercising our cognitive abilities as often as possible in order to strengthen our minds and to better us as human beings. But if we are to train our minds and train ourselves to be better learners, then why not do so while learning skills of actual value?
Although learning mathematics, writing and the sciences is important, it seems to me that there are several trades that we would more greatly benefit from than some of the more ‘elective type’ courses offered in most high schools. Here is my list of 10 trades that we should have been taught in high school:
I know that many millennials these days are vegetarians — and that’s great. However, there seems to me to be a severe lack of training in trades that are necessary for our survival, were there to be some sort of apocalyptic catastrophe that would put us in a position where we simply couldn’t go to the local deli to pick up a bagel.
I am not saying that we should all become doomsday-preppers, waiting for the aliens to attack, but this is not to say that such an attack is not possible. The more likely scenario, of course, would be attacks on U.S. soil by another country. If we were forced to flee our homes and live in the forests, I wonder how many of us would starve to death. Even more likely is finding ourselves in a situation where we are alone and stranded.
People get lost while hiking, planes crash, boats sink and cars breakdown in the middle of nowhere. Being capable of finding a temporary food and water source may not seem important to you at the moment, but if you were to find yourself in such a bad position then such skills will come in handy. Not to mention, learning the history and methods of survival of our ancestors is just as much a part of learning the history and culture of those before us as studying the paintings and music created during those periods.
2. Survival Tactics
Just as learning to find food and water is an important skill for being a living creature, so is finding shelter, creating tools, creating weapons and learning to avoid danger. I understand that to many of you this may seem like a complete waste of time — who the hell needs to know how to avoid being eaten by a bear, right?
Well…someone who is being chased by a bear obviously. While you may never be caught in such a situation, there is no harm in learning such skills. Keep in mind that it is not the skills themselves alone that you would be learning; you would be learning to look at your surroundings differently — to think differently.
When you have to create something literally from scratch — have to gather and collect wood or stones and figure out a way not only to shape the materials, but attach them in such a way as for them to work together — your mind begins to create solutions in a way that it never has before had a chance to. Your imagination is put to work and as a muscle grows and strengthens with use. This, in turn, will be useful for every other time that your imagination will be needed in order to successfully complete a task.
3. Self-defense/Hand-to-hand combat
Because as human beings we are highly intelligent, compared to other animals at least, we have a tendency to rely on our cognitive abilities more than our physical ones. This is all due to evolution and our need for survival. We should always use our minds before we use our fists — however, if using our fists is the only way to protect ourselves then use them we must.
Having the skills to protect yourself against assault from others is very important. Living in the U.S., many of us do not realize how often people are robbed and assaulted across the globe. This is not to say that our country is crime free, but the fact of the matter is that such crime and acts of hate are more prominent in certain parts of the world than others.
Nevertheless, learning to keep yourself safe is a very useful trade to learn. Likewise, being creatures that are both complex in mind and body, in order to be at the peak of our games, we must train all aspects of our human selves. Being in control of our bodies is just as important as being in control of our minds. Learning different styles of martial arts and self-defense is a good way to train both simultaneously.
Now back to the world we currently live in. The fastest way to become a billionaire these days is by creating the next Facebook, Twitter or Shutterstock. If we had all learned coding back when we were still in high school, it’s likely that we would all be better off right now.
Coding is the future — it is a trade that from now on in one shape or form will always be a necessity; unless we are thrown into some apocalyptic, non-electronic age. Creating websites, apps, software or military grade viruses and defenses will be the largest market in the history of the planet in a few short years.
Teaching people such skills earlier on in life — during their teen years — will only work as a catalyst for future innovations. Sure, statistics can be interesting, but won’t be as useful as having the ability to create the next iPhone app.
The medical field is also one of high demand; people will always be getting sick and getting hurt — someone will need to patch them up. Having basic nursing skills will not only be useful for our own purposes whenever we fall and get a booboo. Such skills could help us save our own lives or the lives of those dear to us when misfortune strikes.
Take for example car accidents — they happen all the time and take the lives of multitudes. Many lose their lives or find themselves permanently disabled because they either moved or were positioned poorly when they ought to have been left alone. I had a friend who accidentally shot himself in the gut while on a hunting trip.
On the way to the hospital, he decided to take a pit stop to relieve himself in the forest; he lost consciousness in the act and never made it to the hospital. Had he had known how serious his state was and to avoid taking a pissing break, then he would still be alive today. Such skills in the medical trade would at the very least give you the knowledge to avoid making your situation worse. Plus, being able to stitch yourself up if going to the hospital is not possible is a good skill to have and could possibly prevent infection and loss of limbs.
Think what you want about bankers, they do make a nice amount of money and live a comfortable life. But even if you have no interest in becoming an investment banker, knowing how to deal with your own finances will help you stay out of debt and away from bankruptcy.
Having a good understanding of finance and accounting will give you the certainty of knowing that no one will be able to rip you off — not your partners in your company or your accountant — and will make you smarter about handling your own finances. More importantly, if we were all trained in the areas of finance and accounting at an earlier age, there is a good chance that fewer people who do choose to work in the world of finance would feel comfortable with taking advantage of others.
If everyone has an understanding of how the numbers are crunched, then it is less likely that CEOs of such large corporations would feel safe about taking money from their clients — the same goes for all those accountants that steal the life savings of those who entrust them with taking care of their finances and flee to the islands.
Management is a trade that comes in handy no matter whether you are an entrepreneur, a project manager or work for the city’s sanitation department. Human beings need social interaction in order to live healthy, happy lives. Learning how to manage people is not about learning how to tell people what to do and how to do it — you don’t need to learn skills for that. Managing people entails understanding how others think and how others process information — it takes a level of empathy.
Being able to work with others successfully and to help guide the group in the right direction is an important skill to have regardless of whether or not you are the one dubbed to be in charge. Management skills will not only help you work with others, but will help you most efficiently allocate time and energy into needed areas. There is a level of logic that goes into managing — logic, in my opinion, is the greatest of skills one can learn.
Yes, I know that Paula Deen is now out of a job — but learning to cook does not mean that you have to start your own cooking show. Other than being economical and safer, cooking your own food and being able to prepare a delicious 4-course meal will impress those that need impressing.
Hosting dinners for family, for friends, for potential life partners or for colleagues is a great way to socialize, make important connections with others and at the same time to do a little showing off. Dining is a necessity of life — so why not do it in style? Learning to cook is not difficult and will result in healthier lifestyles and consumption of food with (hopefully) fewer preservatives, processing and chemical additives.
Cooking for yourself will literally leave you feeling better, healthier and make you seem more appealing and respected in the eyes of others. Cooking is just as much an art as it is a form of meditation or grounding. Working with your hands in the kitchen will have just as many cognitive benefits as will sculpting or drawing — not to mention that you get to eat your artwork after you’re done.
We deal with issues everyday. We have relationship problems, we have problems within the family, at school, at work, etc… Stress and depression are in large part caused by the inability to find viable solutions for such problems. How great would it be if we were to learn how to counsel others with their problems at an early age?
We could learn to be good listeners and great advice-givers to those that so often come seeking help or a shoulder to lean on. The benefits of learning such a trade would go beyond the help that we can provide those close to us — it would give us skills that would help us better help ourselves.
I feel as if many people simply do not know how to deal with the sh*t that life sometimes throws our way. Sometimes people are uncertain of how they ought to react and how they ought to get through tribulations and become overwhelmed and weighed down by the inability to help themselves. Focusing more on the common issues that people face in life — in my opinion — is more useful than memorizing the table of elements.
10. Pickup Artistry
Learning the art of the pickup… not for the purpose of getting into more pants within our lifetimes, but rather for teaching crucial social skills and helping people break out of their self-imposed shells. If high schools would teach “picking up” or “networking” as an actual skillset or trade, then not only would people become more capable of helping themselves get ahead in life, but would also be more capable of putting aside differences and getting along.
Most social-interacting mishaps are a result of misunderstanding or poor tactical approach. People often offend without intention or become offended without reason. Teaching teens how to interact with each other properly and with the opposite sex would lead to a healthier social structure and more willingness for cooperation and joint venture. Not to mention that it would help those who are shy to crawl out of their cocoons and to live life more fully.