Friday, March 20, 2009

Practical Knowledge

Laura at 11D and Tim at Easily Distracted both posted about the more down-to-earth knowledge they feel young people (and we, really) should have. The comments at both posts also add a lot of ideas to the conversation.

I've been reading Sarah Vowell's Wordy Shipmates and she says she's urban and she really doesn't want to know how to survive in the wilderness the way the Puritans did.

I know quite a bit of practical knowledge that's been quite useful to me: typing, foundational computer skills, cooking, changing a car tire, gardening (even though I'm not good at it, I know the basics), basic home repair, dealing with bee stings.

I also have some knowledge, thanks to a Red Cross babysitting course and other sources that I haven't had to use yet: CPR, how to use a tourniquet, what to do when someone ingests poisonous substances, building a fire without matches.

My kids both said that they thought learning to play an instrument was important. Which I thought was interesting since it seems so very impractical in many ways. They've both learned to play an instrument, so they must have thought it was important.

There are things I don't know, like canning and storing food, that I'd like to know, and things I don't know well enough, like financial management, that I wish I knew more about. I've learned quite a bit about what it takes to set up a small business (something that make's Tim's list), but it's been trial by fire to say the least. I took a personal financial management class in college that was really useful, but now I find knowing how to budget and actually disciplining yourself to stick to a budget are two completely different things.

I would add to Laura's list directed primarily at young women to seriously use and learn about technology. I can't tell you how many women I see who shy away from even the basics of knowing how to save files or upload them to the web or the difference between an operating system and a software program. You don't need to learn programming, but I think a lack of knowledge about computer basics is going to relegate you to jobs that don't pay very well. Even if you do do something like start your own bake shop, you're gonna need to manage payroll and invoices, maybe create your own bakehouse blog, so technology is important everywhere.

What are your practical knowledge triumphs and gaps?
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