How important is it that we teach our children practical skills such as painting a wall or repairing a bicycle tire?
In our modern service-based economy teaching children even basic skills such as painting can seem rather trivial and unnecessary to many parents - why teach them something they can pay somebody else to do? Do you believe children should be taught a wide range of practical skills, just basic but seemingly important skills, or none whatsoever?
1 expert and 1 parent have answered
Great question Cal, and certainly in this age of such a service-based economy it would be easy to think that actually making/repairing things doesn't have such importance, but like Holly I agree that it's absolutely vital we don't lose the opportunities to get our kids involved in everyday activities to teach them the importance of understanding 'how things work'.
Whether it's changing a tyre on a bike, building a flat pack, or working out what kind of paint drys quickest on an outside wall or fence, there is much of value that can be learned by our children that will help them potentially contribute to society through by making a difference either through innovation or changing the way systems or products work.
Despite its continuing decline, manufacturing remains the third largest sector in the UK economy in terms of share of the UKGDP. Making stuff, and making better stuff, is a fundamental human activity, and our most basic economic process. I was fortunate during my research for my book to meet Emily Cummins - a young, female British inventor who whilst still at school developed the worlds first sustainable fridge powered by dirty water and used in Africa. From the age of four she spent many hours with her grandfather learning about how things work, making and fixing stuff (from rabbit hutches to jewellery boxes) and was given space and time to experiment and explore with everyday materials. I'm not saying that every child will go on to to be the next Emily Cummins, but having that basic understanding of how things work, how to fix things etc. will certainly be of benefit not just to them but potentially to wider society too and will help children understand the work that goes in to creating products, and the value that this has.
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I think it's important. I really notice the difference between myself (a Daddy's girl who spent an awful lot of time sticking bits of wood together with my Dad when I was a kid) and friends who weren't shown practical skills. I can change a fuse, build flatpack furniture, check my oil and so on. It doesn't matter how many gadgets we have (and I love gadgets) there are some skills that require practical skills and basic understanding. So I fully intend to teach my kids 'life skills' and have already started. They can cook, work a washing machine, they know how to open the boot on my car.
There are still many jobs that require craftsmanship or manual abilities, and some people genuinely have more affinity with this type of work - they need to have the chance to find that out, in school and at home!