Now, in 13 days time from the date this post is published (07/06/2020), I will have officially left school four years ago. Obviously I stayed for my A-Levels (living in a rural area doesn't give you much choice as to where you go after school), but in terms of actual school, it will be four years since I left and I guess became a young 'adult'.
And during the last four years (and my time in school, quite frankly) I have realised that some of the stuff they taught us was pretty pointless and didn't matter; whereas the stuff that we would all need for later life (or even while we were at school) was never delivered as part of a lesson. So today I thought I would write a post on the things I wish I had been taught at school that would have been way more helpful for my future than learning about Pythagoras theorem and George killing Lenny (sorry to those currently reading 'Of Mice and Men'). Before I start, I would just like to emphasise the point that this is not me having a go at teachers and saying the stuff they deliver in lessons is pointless, because I now have a huge respect for teachers that I certainly didn't four years ago. What I am trying to get at here is that the curriculum needs a complete and utter overhaul so current students get the support they will need for the future.
I have been quite open on here and on social media that I struggle with mental health problems. But given schools have a lot to say on physical health, you'd have thought their stance on mental health would be the same, right? Wrong. I think the only time I ever heard anything mental health related in my school was when we were learning about the dangers of being an alcohol/drug addict and that it can cause depression. In fact, the only reason I realised what I was suffering from wasn't just being nervous or shy or just having 'a down day, because we all have them', was from blogging. It was from reading other blog posts on these two mental illnesses that I realised I have them. But it's not just learning about anxiety and depression, as I feel these are the only two mental illnesses people think of when mental health is mentioned. There was never any mention of illnesses such as schizophrenia, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and BPD, just to name a few. I honestly believe that if we had had lessons on mental health in school then there would be a lot less stigma surrounding this issue and more people would feel able to talk openly about it and know where they could get help if they needed it. I was taught about calling 999 in school for if I had an accident that hurt me physically, but I was never taught who to call if I was hurting mentally. And maybe if I had been taught about this, I wouldn't be in the position I am in today. Mortgage/Rent
At some point in my life I would really like to be able to buy my own house and because I'm such an 'adult', I have got a help to buy ISA (which currently only has around £300 in it). However, for this to happen I will 100% be needing to get a mortgage and I don't really know what one of these is, how to go about getting one, or the process involved with being approved. I don't even know how much is a realistic amount to save before even considering looking into getting one. I definitely think having a lesson on mortgages and buying a house, or even just getting someone to come in and give a talk for an assembly (around 20-30 minutes) and providing us with resources that then provide more information (such as websites) would have been so beneficial when I was younger. I think it's all well and good telling someone to just 'google it', but not all information on the internet is accurate and I may read something that gives me false information, so even if they didn't actually give us a lesson on mortgages, it would have been so useful if they could have pointed us in the right direction on some useful information. In terms of rent, obviously I would prefer not having to rent somewhere because I would much rather stay at home with my mum for a few more years and save up the money to get a mortgage, however renting a house or flat may end up happening. I guess in terms of rent I would like to know things such as how to spot how high is too high in terms of how much you are paying and what your rights are as a renter, i.e. what I would be responsible for sorting out and what the landlord/lady would be responsible for sorting out. I think these are maybe some things where some of you will say it's quite obvious, however I know of people who have been paying way too much rent than what they should be compared to others in the same area/street and haven't even realised. But not only that, but also about buying a house and then renting it out as I would love to be in this position one day (although that is highly unlikely) so I would like to know how to go about that and what the do's and don'ts are of renting a house out. I think these things are important to be taught in school as it would have really helped point me in the right direction and maybe even encouraged me to start saving a lot sooner than I did.
This is an important one. I have spoken about my experience of emotional abuse before, and it was only about a year after that relationship ended that I realised I had been in an emotionally abusive relationship. I can remember as a teenager seeing some TV adverts surrounding physical abuse, so I was vaguely aware of what that was, however I had never heard of emotional abuse until a few years ago and I definitely don't think back then I would have been able to spot signs of abuse, either within my own relationship or in someone else's. I think that's really important too - being able to spot the signs of abuse in someone else's relationship. This is because some people (including myself) aren't always able to spot the signs of abuse in our own relationships, so maybe if we had been taught in school on how to spot the signs in our own and other's relationships, then maybe people wouldn't have had to go through as much trauma as they have done and in many cases still continue to.
I think the majority of us know that if we don't want to have sex or engage in any form of sexual activity with someone we should say no and that should be respected; the same as if someone else tells us they don't want to have sex or engage in sexual activity with us, we should also respect that. However, I don't remember ever being taught this in school and I think a lot of people presume that if you are in a relationship with someone, if either person wants to do something you both do it. But that's not always the case. And just because you've done something once with someone (whether you're in a relationship with them or not), it doesn't always mean that you will want to do it the next time (or at any other point). I think this needs to be taught in school, particularly as the age of consent in the UK is 16 which corresponds with the same age you leave school (but not education altogether) and I think teaching young people this is important, particularly as a lot of people were getting into their first proper long-term relationships at this time
Now, I know absolutely nothing when it comes to finances. I have no idea how to budget. I have no idea how much I should be saving (particularly in terms of when I get a job and how much of my paycheck should go into savings). I have no idea how a credit card works and whether I should get one or not. I have no idea on loans and how repaying one works (obviously I never plan on taking out a loan but it may have to happen one day). APR - not a clue what that stands for or what it is. I have no idea how a pension works or what paying into a pension is. I have never paid a bill in my life and have no idea how much these would cost or how to go about paying for them. I have no idea how to invest my money into a business/company or how to recognise which businesses/companies are worth paying into or when to take my money out of a business/company. I have no idea what financial security is or how to achieve it, particularly when the job sector I am going into doesn't pay a lot but I would still like to be somewhat financially secure on my own. So yeah, it is fair to say I know nothing about finances and would have loved to learn about all of the above while in school so I had, at the very least, the faintest idea on this stuff.
Basic Household Chores
Some of you may say that this should be common sense, but hear me out. I know for sure in the sixties children were taught how to cook and sew and stuff like that. Sure, we did food tech, but that was the only thing. I know how to fill the dishwasher and how to turn it on, but only because my mum points me to the tablet we have to put in and I think if I was out shopping, I wouldn't have a clue what to look for. I also have no idea how to use a washing machine or what to put in it. It's easy for people to say to learn at home, and I agree, however some kids don't have parents who are willing to teach them this sort of thing, or may not have the resources available to them to be able to learn. I think schools should recognise this and should provide the option for these skills to be taught, such as in an after school club.
I had never heard of a smear test until a few years ago and up until last year when Zoe Sugg did her smear test video, I thought you had to be 21 to have one (it's actually 25 in the UK). The only reason I actually know anything about smear tests is due to that video, but this sort of thing should have been taught in school. It's an inevitable thing that every woman has to have, and yet there is absolutely no schooling on it whatsoever. I think if I had been taught about this in school and why it is so important (again, something I only learnt from watching the Jade Goody documentary on channel 4), it really would have taken away the stress I had of finding out about something that I had to have but had no idea on. In fact, if Zoe hadn't of uploaded that video, I would still have absolutely no idea on smear tests or what they involve. I know this is exclusive to girls, however it is also something that may be useful for boys to learn about and the importance of it so if they have a girlfriend or girl friend, they can encourage her to get her smear test done, as it really can be a matter of life and death depending on whether you do or don't have it.
I'm definitely going to be doing a part two to this in the next few weeks as I have so much more to say on this matter but feel I have rambled on enough for one blog post today. If you believe there is anything I have missed off this post that you would like to see included in part two, then please let me know in the comments below. Similarly, if there are any other topics you would like to see me discuss on this blog, then please let me know them in the comments below also.
I love you all and I'll see you (not literally) next week.
Love Beth xx