I got up before 5am today (summer here is rough on sleep) and started thinking about formal education and how it fails to educate people in the most important ways. There are three really important areas I feel formal schooling lets people down.
All of them are things that took me until my mid-30s to figure out, and I have had one of the best educations available -private school, famous university, and post-graduate study. I don’t remember any of these being addressed at any of my educational institutions, yet they are probably the most important things in terms of having a happy and productive life.
The importance of exercise, how to include exercise into your life, the benefits of lifting weights or doing bodyweight training, basic nutritional information, healthy and unhealthy diets, how to watch out for sugar (poison, basically), dangers of processed carbohydrates, benefits of protein and fats.
Being healthy through a combination of physical exercise and a balanced diet is the foundation to a happy life. It should be a core part of compulsory and continued education.
How to budget, the power of interest (both on debt and savings), different investing options, the pros and cons of home ownership, how to use credit responsibly, how to build up savings and passive income, deferring purchases, how to think about money.
Being financially secure through an ’emergency fund’ of cash savings and having an income-producing portfolio of investments accumulated by saving every month won’t make you happy -but it will ensure that money problems do not make you unhappy.
Identifying things you want to achieve, breaking them down into manageable goals, doing self-directed research, and working consistently until completion are incredibly valuable skills.
We live in an age of increasing and decreasing opportunity. It is probably easier now than ever before for people to start small side businesses and have a shot at creating value for others and an income for themselves. At the same time, traditional employment where you get money in exchange for doing what you are told is shrinking alarmingly. All over the world young people are finding it harder and harder to find jobs that pay well and provide security.
An entrepreneurial mindset and the ability to set up and deal with your own projects is one way to provide employment security. Unlike in the past, setting up a side business in the age of the internet has minimal costs and little financial risk.
Now, I don’t think schools can magically teach these things to every student, thus leading to a utopian future where we are all healthy, financially responsible, productive members of society 🙂
However, I believe that giving every young person a solid grounding in the three areas above would at least give them a chance to build upon them later in life. At least when I went through school and university these things weren’t even touched upon.