What We Wish We Learnt in School – waste-ed shop

What We Wish We Learnt in School

What's even the point of getting an education? Do you ever wonder why we spend 12 years of our lives waking up early and sitting at various desks for 8 hours a day, only to learn how to use a graphing calculator and write in cursive (maybe)? As floods and wildfires stretch further and further into local neighborhoods and our government does nothing to protect us, school taught us to calculate the damages and write a lovely looking request for compensation.

More and more, it’s obvious that school emphasizes skills involving STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) and business, where you learn to profit from others’ skills. We learn the factory method where each person specializes in something completely different from their neighbor, creating an amazing whole out of isolated parts.

Organizing? Lobbying for change? Who knows anything about that? Let’s talk about a few things we wish we would’ve learned in school.

How About Some Survival Skills?

man blowing on campfire

All that Jack London stuff about starting a fire and foraging? Seems pretty relevant now, no? Mushrooms are full of protein and other essential nutrients, so if you’re starving in the forest, finding a patch of safely edible ones could be a godsend. Yes, some mushrooms will kill you. Others will have you seeing all kinds of weird stuff, and most of us don’t have the slightest clue what’s the difference (‘if it’s red, you’re dead’ is a phrase this writer once heard).

Foraging in general is something most of us have no idea about. If there aren’t dandelions floundering about, what can you eat? Lettuce doesn’t grow in the wild and flowers like hemlock are so extremely toxic that they’ll eat away at your stomach lining until you choke on bile! What the heck, Mother Nature?

If you haven’t already, start a garden and learn about how to make plants happy. Not only is it a fascinating and beautiful process, but it will endow you with handy skills that transfer to other areas of your life.

You’ll Always Need Water

hand filling cup from stream

Earth should probably be named Water instead, since it’s water that makes everything tick on this planet. But unless you studied the hell out of chemistry, there’s little chance you know how to obtain clean, fresh water without a factory-made purifier at the ready.

Here are some ways to get water:

·       Distillation: take unsafe water, boil it, and collect the runoff

·       Build your own filter: cut the bottom off of a plastic bottle but keep the cap on, fill it with activated carbon, pebbles, then top off with sand. Poke holes in the cap to let water flow into whatever receptacle you’re using 

·       Iodine tablets: iodine is a crazy element that protects you from not just impure water, but radiation poisoning too! People near Chernobyl took iodine tablets to avoid having their DNA scrambled.

You can also use UV lights to purify water, but it’s a little more of a hassle because you have to have the right equipment and a source of electricity, which may not always be practical.

Basic Economic Understanding? Anyone?

calculator and notepad with pen on top of cash

It wasn’t so long ago that people were taught to balance a checkbook, meaning that they subtracted what they spent from the balance of their checking account. Since that’s now all done digitally, today’s challenge is to remember your login password so you can check your balance.

But do you know about compound interest and how paying the minimum credit card payment will lead to your balance doubling every 3-5 years? Have you ever put money into a mutual fund so it can accrue interest while you sleep? Tax laws heavily favor businesses, but most of us still think of working hourly/salary jobs as the key to earning enough to retire comfortably (hint: it isn’t), so borrow somebody else’s money and invest it.

Saving a Life When it Counts

Who took first aid in high school? Was it even offered? Shouldn’t treating an open wound or burn be common knowledge? As far as survival skills go, knowing how to actually survive seems pretty high on the list of educational priorities.

The human body isn’t simple, but it does have its principles, but nobody learns them unless they take on half a million dollars of student debt. Even then, going to medical school generally only teaches students to treat ailments with either surgery or medication. Once you enter the realm of herbal or even chiropractic medicine, the subject becomes “holistic” or “alternative.” That’s absurd! Of course there’s a variety of modalities to treat health issues. It’s a systemic failure that our education only teaches one, and only to a select few.

Fermenting Your Food

It would be great if food and water were the only things our bodies needed, but unfortunately there’s this whole realm of acids and probiotics that aid digestion and keep our immune systems healthy. To get there requires an understanding of fermentation.

Fermentation isn’t all that complicated, but if you don’t understand it, you could blow your house up. Again though, where is the education on this in public school? Most of us couldn’t make yogurt, bread or brew beer if our life was on the line.

Why Are You the Way You Are?

Don’t worry, you’re not an idiot. It wasn’t long ago that the U.S. education system was considered one of the best in the world. Despite it being a breeding ground for blind capitalist obedience and routine periods of sitting, the literacy rate in the U.S. was high and the GDP was rooted in innovation rather than inflation. That’s no longer the case.

There are all kinds of systemic failures within our education system—individualism, division of labor, the insistence on punctuality—and they all come from the same basic ideology that says your role, your highest identity, is rooted in how much you earn. None of us want it this way, yet here we are.

Here’s a website where you can download entire textbooks and read up on anything that suits your fancy. Is it legal? Yes? The public school system failed you, so it’s time to take matters in your own hands. We’re right here with you!

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