So there has been a lot of talk lately in local media both about the "high cost of being poor" and of the lack of discipline, monetary or otherwise, in many today's young people...
I have worked in the education field for a while now and I have taken notice of a few things:
--Many programs under the heading of Special Education and/or Social Service programs include "life skills" classes wherein students are taught about successfully completing the tasks of daily living. They are taught about banking, budgeting, paying rent and utilities, choosing clothing and other items, meal planning, etc. I do not mean this is a disparaging way at all but maybe we should integrate "Life Skills" classes into all other areas of education as well.
I have been flabbergasted by the number of people I have encountered, some school age and some adult, who DO NOT KNOW HOW TO WRITE A CHECK. I have seen others who have never learned how to budget, who can't keep track of their rent and other bills, who blow too much money on clothes and who can't plan a meal to save their lives. These are people with no special circumstances or disadvantages, just people who never learned. And so many people are still living with their parents into their 30s and older because they wouldn't know how to live on their own... They have no LIFE SKILLS.
I think that classes where students are given activities where they have a set amount of fake money and a list of pretend bills to pay might help them learn now to budget and prioritize. There could also be activities where they are given a fake grocery ad and fake coupons. Students could be given extra credit based on how much money they save using the fake coupons. There could also be a list of food items that they would have to categorize into individual meal plans.
...It just occurred to me that these kinds of lessons may have at one point been given in HOME ECONOMICS CLASSES... But MANY SCHOOLS TODAY NO LONGER GIVE HOME ECONOMICS CLASSES! I am 31 years old and I went to a middle class suburban public high school. We did not have Home Ec classes.
Heck, even the social and health problems of obesity, poor nutrition and diabetes could be in part linked to the lack of Home Ec classes... KIDS THESE DAYS DO NOT KNOW HOW TO COOK "REAL" FOOD! THEY ONLY KNOW HOW TO SICK SOMETHING IN A MICROWAVE. I don't remember ever being taught how to skin a chicken or select vegetables. When I started to live on my own I always had to reach for a cookbook to find out the proper time and temperature to cook something. This is also true of finding out how long you can keep certain foods for before they go bad. How long can you keep cooked meat in the refrigerator and have it still be safe to eat?
I admit that I was not taught many of these things while growing up and I have had to look stuff up on my own. I still to this day am embarassed by the fact that there are certain kinds of vegetables that I have never heard of and certain elements of food preparation that I am clueless about. Again, my public high school did not have Home Ec.
And when people don't learn about money management, food preparation and other things the sad fact is that they end up needing someone else to bail them out... The government of Mom and Dad.
Does James Williams read this board? If you do, I love ya man! Does the Buffalo Public School system teach Home Ec... Or like I said even the suburban schools may need the classes also...
I'll end with a somewhat abrasive comment: When low income students do not receive Life Skills classes they end up on Section 8 and Welfare. When middle income suburban students do not receive Life Skills classes they end up living with Mom and Dad and in massive credit card debt. There.