6 life lessons that should be taught in school, according to expert

An accountant, tech expert and chef share their thoughts

Olivia Blair
Thursday 12 January 2017 11:37 GMT
(Getty Images)

Have you ever encountered a problematic situation and thought, ‘I wish I had been taught to deal with this at school?’

Whether it’s managing your self-employment tax rate or learning how to properly cook a roast dinner before you get to university, while an academic education can provide you with maths, English and the tools to pass exams and go on to secure further study and jobs, there are often life lessons which you learn purely through growing up and figuring things out.

While these academic lessons are important, we asked a range of experts and activists from the tech, culinary and finance world what life lessons should be taught in school.

From coding to wellbeing to sexual values, here are what a mix of experts think:

Healthy sexual values

Cindy Gallop, founder of If We Ran the World and Make Love Not Porn

“The one life lesson that should be taught in school is good sexual values. I regularly ask people, “What are your sexual values?” and no one can ever answer, because we're not taught to think that way. Our parents bring us up to have good manners, a work ethic, a sense of accountability; nobody ever brings us up to behave well in bed. They should - because empathy, sensitivity, kindness, generosity, honesty are as important there as they are in every area of our lives and work where we are actively taught to exercise those values. When we openly teach and promote good sexual values and good sexual behaviour, we inculcate them as a universal standard in society, and we end rape culture.”

Balancing a budget

Richard Stonier, partner at Tally Accounts

“Learning to monitor your incomings and outgoings, at any age, is a vital skill. Whether it’s a child learning to manage your monthly pocket money allowance wanting to buy the newest video game or the CEO of a multi-million-pound business looking to expand into new sectors, developing an aptitude for financial management is something which has been missing from the curriculum for a long time. While much of our financial learning is acquired through our parents, school lessons on budgeting and finances provides the opportunity for children and adolescents to develop financial responsibility and an appreciation of being a mindful consumer, investor and saver.”

Be in tune with your mental health

Amber Cowburn, Campaigns Manager at Young Minds

“PSHE lessons can make a big difference when they focus on building resilience and equipping children with awareness of good mental health – but promoting the wellbeing of children should be a central part of everything that schools do. That's why schools need incentives and recognition for taking a 'whole-school approach' to mental health.”

Rustling up interesting, healthy food

Adam Simmonds, Michelin-star Chef

“Food tech, or home economics as it was called when I was young, was a subject I loved, however there was never an emphasis placed on nutrition. I strongly believe this should be a part of education, so kids understand how the right food can give them energy and ensure they have a healthy body. A couple of years ago, I worked with a food consultant at a local school. We worked with the kids to make courgette muffins which they all loved. Afterwards we explained how healthy they were and what was in them and they all said they hated courgette!! This seems to be a typical response from lots of children. If food tech classes included cooking things like this then perhaps it would encourage them to choose nutritionally balanced meals in the future and enjoy cooking them for their friends and family.”

Respecting other people's boundaries and beliefs

Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

“Earlier, better quality sex and relationship education, starting age-appropriately from the first year of primary school and continuing throughout a pupil's school life, covering issues of consent, abuse, emotions, sexual orientation and gender identity, coping with problems in relationships, sexual health and how to have fulfilling sex for yourself and your partner should be taught in school.”

Don't stop improving yourself and the things around you

Antony Walker, deputy chief executive of Tech UK

“We love it when we see young people getting creative with technology and would like to see more emphasis placed on using technology to do and make things. Coding comes alive when it is used as a means to an end – to make and do things. That is when the inspiration light bulb goes on – when young people understand how to use technology. To understand the modern world, young people need to be able to see behind the technology that they use every day. We hope once that light bulb goes on – it will lead to a life-long interest and a career in tech. But I think it is also really healthy for young people to understand that the machines and technologies that we live with everyday have been imagined, created and programmed by people. And to realise that everything can be improved upon.”

Never rely on others to teach you

Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer and climate change campaigner

“Parents and teachers protect you from the truth. You have to self-educate. The truth is discoverable: the world now faces mass extinction from climate change.”

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