Google+ Authentic Parenting: The Things We Have Lost Because Of School

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Things We Have Lost Because Of School

There is this article I want to write, but every time I think of it, it becomes a book in my head even before I get to put some words onto virtual paper. On of the sidetracks of this topic is me thinking about how much gets lost by schooling.

I can see a raised eyebrow already, but please keep an open mind and bare with me. Think back to your eldest living relative - maybe this is your grandmother, maybe someone else - think about all the skills she has that you have not. All the times you say “how do I do that” and you have to reach for the phone and this 80 plus woman just whips it up out of her head. I’m thinking recipes, cleaning secrets, sewing, embroidery, gardening skills... Then think about the skills your mother has (or had) for which you never had the time to learn (After all, you were to busy being in school).

Image: creative commons

A little anecdote - one of many I could tell you of this phenomenon - is when I moved to my grandmother, I found out her whites were way whiter than my moms. So I got on the phone with my mom and told her to take a washing course with my grandmother, and ever since my mom’s whites are sparkly too.

These are pieces of knowledge and skills that get lost, they probably end up dying with the person that holds them and all we have is the internet to spend hourlong searches on how to get our laundry as white as our grandmother’s was. A couple hundred years ago, these skills were passed down from mother to child, from father to son. But recently, school has replaced this exchange, and the more children had to go to these institutions, the more they were worn out when they got back and the less of these skills got passed down.

These skills are skills we all need one day. No matter how high you are on the corporate ladder, you will want to wear whites that look white. Even if you’re a nuclear physicist, you might one day want to bake a cake for your child or significant other.
Yet instead, we got long division and physics. We had to memorize things we’d forget in a heartbeat and would never use again.

To this day, I cannot reproduce my grandmother’s delicious biscuit birthday cake. And I’m sorry for that. However, I am all the more ardent to show my daughter all of the little skill I have left, if she is willing.



  1. I too 'mourn' the times in which skills were passed down/on rather than hammered into little heads that are too sleepy or full of ideas for play.
    I didn't learn any cooking or general household skills in school but am told that my husband's year did. Why was this discontinued? I believe that it is far more important to learn life skills than how the interior of a cow looks.

  2. sigh... this is so true. when my darling nanna passed away 18 months ago i lamented all the wisdom and knowledge she took with her.

  3. Ok, so what is your grandmother's secret for her whity whites ? I'm dying to know !

    Your article is true for middle- and lower-class people. Lots of tips and secrets and knwo-how are lost because children are busy going to school and to extra-school activities (you know how children have ministerial schedules, going to violin lesson to football practice to painting course etc...). For the upper-class, it was lost a loooong time ago, as they did not take care of their children themselves, nor of their house.

  4. Interesting comment, Murielle, yet isn't it true that the upper classes did school their children (albeit with a tutor) before school existed?
    On the other hand, one could argue that the rich upper classes didn't need to learn to bake cakes and clean whites because they would never need those skills. Generally, even though aristocracy in Eurpe has lost a little of its glory, nthey still remain among the richer people of society.
    Anyhow... something to think about.

  5. @Nev, I thinkk there are many ways in which schooling could be revised in a manner that still keeps the collective care structure for parents who work outside the house, but is more life experience based and self directed. Especially in this day and age of technological progress and information, we see schools falling behind and knowledge becoming obsolete as soon as it is printed... Why do we continue these disconnected institutions if we could so clearly do better (and probably cheaper)


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