Back when I was a middle school Tween, all the girls were scheduled for Home Ec for one afternoon a week, while the boys went to Shop class. Sounds sexist as hell, right? But for my part, it was actually time well spent, because I gained a lot of good basic life skills from it.
I learned to use a sewing machine and sew by hand and learned how to mend garments instead of replacing them. I also learned a lot about cooking, budgeting, and running a household. The boys learned other things, like making a coat tree or wooden box. Perhaps carpentry skills would come in handy some day, but I think the boys would have been better off with us in Home Ec!
Much of what I learned there has continued to serve me well in adulthood. I still rely on the sewing techniques I learned from Mrs. Bixler all those years ago, and I still use her recipe to bake the same cranberry nut bread for the holidays every year.
But with school districts in dire financial straits, more “non-essential” courses are being cut every year. I don’t hear much these days about Home Ec classes, and it sounds as if students today aren’t learning these skills in school anymore. Curricula are designed to maximize standardized test performance, and teenagers are more focused on building a competitive college and post-college resume with academics, sports, and extracurriculars.
Unfortunately, it also seems that kids aren’t learning the life skills they need to become “real grownups” at home either. Of course, these are all skills your parents should have taught you or perhaps you might learn from friends or from teachers at school. But face it – for whatever reason, a lot of kids graduate from high school or even college, never having learned to do those simple adult things needed for independence. No one is teaching them things like how to do their taxes, shop for healthy food, or fold a fitted sheet.
In short, for whatever reason, kids today are less likely to learn life skills from their parents or siblings or at school. So how will kids learn how to adult?
Don’t worry – enterprising entrepreneurs have picked up on this trend and are offering instruction in “Adulting” – doing the things that one expects from a self-sufficient, reasonable grownup person.
In Portland, Maine, psychotherapist Rachel Weinstein and her business partner Katie Brunelle recognized the problem and offered a solution by launching The Adulting School.
In general, the program is geared toward young people from ages 16-25, but all ages are welcome. The curriculum is grounded in what they describe as the Six Essentials of Adulting: Wellness, DIY, Work, Money, Community, and Relationships.
The cost of the online program is $20 a month. Enrollees can sign up for one-week classes in the Six Essentials, where they can learn such diverse skills as how to hang a picture, how to build a solid credit history, or how to change the oil in their car. The Adulting School also offers live webinars and local workshops in the Portland, Maine, area, with plans to expand in the future.
The North Bend Public Library in Oregon also offers a similar program they call “Adulting 101.” Sessions include Basic Essential Cooking, Financial Know-How, Getting a Job, and Moving Out (how to find an apartment, how to live with a roommate, how to talk to your landlord). Students can learn how to get the most for their money at the grocery store, as well as various and sundry household tasks that it’s not likely they were taught – how a breaker box works, how to clean an oven… anything you want to know how to do).
There’s been a lot of ridicule at the concept of teaching “Adulting,” with detractors saying it’s just another example of coddling lazy Millennials. However, the fact is that there are certain skills you need to adult successfully, and kids often aren’t learning them at home or in school anymore.
And where a problem exists, there’s always an opportunity to create a business to help solve it.