Time magazine has a great article about why schools can’t teach sex ed. The bottom line is that public schools can’t go near the type of information kids are looking for. And any school that depends on parents writing tuition checks is going to stay as far away from useful sex ed as they can.

Kids know way more than ever at a younger age than ever. Surely this trend has been happening for generations now, but the combination of women’s liberation—where women finally began talking openly about sex—followed by the Internet— where the bleeding edge of all technology is porn—has really sped up the process of educating kids about sex.

Time magazine assumes parents will take the lead on sex ed in today’s environment. Time recommends websites like Bedsider that offer easy to understand facts about contraception in an open-minded and legitimate way, and others like StayTeen, GoAskAlice! and Sex, etc. On Scarleteen, educators answer questions from How do I behave sexually without someone thinking I’m a slut? to questions about pubic hair.

Teens use YouTube like their parents use Google, so it’s no surprise that YouTube is full of highly regarded (by Time magazine) sex education. Laci Green has made a name for herself by providing frank and funny videos that answer common questions young people have and dispel myths. Two of her more popular episodes are You Can’t POP Your Cherry! (Hymen 101) and Sex Object BS.

Then I read a piece in the New Yorker about the Sex Education Conference where transgender issues were front and center. (What if your partner has a very similar gender to you?) And myths were dispelled (Can you get drunk by dunking a tampon in vodka and inserting it? The answer is no, but it stings.)

This got me thinking about what are other things that kids absolutely have to learn but schools cannot teach?

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

What else is on your list of things kids can’t learn at school?

30 replies
  1. kaleen
    kaleen says:

    Evaluating and questioning authority structures. I think you just wrote a post about this recently, and I completely agree! Figuring out who to trust has been pivotal in every major life or career event of mine.

  2. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    A few things I would add (personally) to this list of life skills to teach at home are: how to continue to eat and live a healthy lifestyle and really developing our emotional intelligence or EQ.

  3. jayson
    jayson says:

    “(Can you get drunk by dunking a tampon in vodka and inserting it? The answer is no, but it stings.)”

    lol! Don’t make me laugh like that at work. People look at me funny.

    • mh
      mh says:

      My first thought – what if you insert it in your mouth?

      My second thought – did you know tampons work great for first aid against a bullet wound?

      That’s why I love this blog. So much great information.

  4. Karo
    Karo says:

    “Working with hands, learning through doing, kinesthetic learning” – so important for boys for the most part aren’t auditory learners

  5. Karo
    Karo says:

    …also – teaching them something along the lines of entrepreneurial thinking and targeted execution of bigger ideas

  6. Lindsay
    Lindsay says:

    On my list for my future hypothetical kids is also:
    – critical thinking
    – anger management
    – how to have a good marriage (especially negotiation)

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Anger management is such a good one! I love that. So much of anger management is first learning to be alone, to get a handle on what energy and emotions feel like when they are about to explode in the body. And it’s so individualized.

      Lindsay you make me think I should be much more deliberate about teaching this in my own house.

      Penelope

      • Tracy
        Tracy says:

        My son flies into rages so we picked up some techniques and started working with him to breathe himself back into control. To model it, I am trying them out myself, but I am humbled by how quickly he is learning them compared to my sloth-paced progress. Still, trying to teach something is the ultimate way to learn it yourself, right?

  7. Katalina
    Katalina says:

    “How to get through hardships” has got to be one of the best teaching and learning moments for both the kids and I.
    When a cousin suggested I put the kids in school after my dad’s suicide while my soon-t0-be-ex was deployed, I said “NO! Putting them in school during hardships will only teach them that they’re a burden and need to put stuck elsewhere while you.. what? Deal with some feelings?” Nope! Nope! Nope! We all had feelings together, and prayed together and got through it together and helped us become a stronger unit for the other fun stuff life threw at us in the next few years.

  8. MBL
    MBL says:

    Sorry, off topic.

    Why are comments to recent posts closing so quickly? Ones from less than 3 weeks ago are now closed. I think that your posts invite prolonged discussions and will miss this aspect of your blog. I always like revisiting a topic when someone who has just discovered your blog posts a comment long after the initial discussion.

    I wanted to add on to the MBTI parent/kid post from December but couldn’t.

    In the chat/sidebar or the webinar I had posted about this site that has two different free tests geared towards younger kidsparentingbytemperament. When my daughter was 8 I was able to ask her some of the questions and found out she was a P rather than a J. Many of the questions are geared towards the school environment, but we worked it out.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Yeah. You’re right. They are closing too quickly.

      I have a huge huge problem with spam. So I keep trying to figure out what to do. (The spam software cannot get around real people paid to post spam…)

      So for now we’ll go back to open comments. Thank you for reminding me what’s important on a blog :)

      Penelope

      • Jessica
        Jessica says:

        Need vs wants.

        I take it a step further and try to model 7 habits.

        Ymkas eq comment is spot on, once a kid feels emotionally OK and safe, learning is natural.

  9. Claire
    Claire says:

    Teaching kids how to fail at things that matter to them and how to respond in a way that they can live with as they continue to attempt things and grow and explore.

  10. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    Schools could (but don’t) teach how to navigate interpersonal relationships – when there is gossip that starts prior to junior high, they could teach the importance of kindness. (Thankfully there is anti bullying). Schools could teach basic manners and consideration. I’m not talking charm school but more philosophical discussions (ethics) starting at a young age seem to be in order in 2015.

  11. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    Great list being formed here.

    Here’s my addition. A value system and the basic building blocks of good character, so in addition to determination, things like courage, integrity, patience, fidelity, humility, etc

    • Jessica
      Jessica says:

      I’ve found solidifying my personal value system benefits my kids the greatest. Modeling that is.

  12. Rayne of Terror
    Rayne of Terror says:

    As far as I can tell, the only kids who get life skills class/practice at school are those who aren’t college bound. I have avoided taking my young sons grocery shopping because it makes more of a hassle for me, but now that my oldest is 9 I’m taking him along and narrating why I make the decisions I do and sending him off with a small list so he can practice making decisions in the face of overwhelming choices.

  13. mh
    mh says:

    How about schools teaching kids that they really don’t need school to learn things?

    How about teaching the basics of savings, debt, compound interest, and investing? We used to have a Junior Achiever course that did this.

    How about schools teaching the joy of play?

    Why do we “play piano” and “play chess,” but we don’t “play math?” Math is so much fun to play with. We “put on a play” and we “play ball”… more subjects should be taught through play.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Oh my, yes! We play math here for sure. We have the Allowance game and a fraction pizza game and we do math problems for fun on a white board! We talk math “Grandma will be here in two weeks, how many days is that?” “Its 14 because two groups of 7 is 14.” says the five year old. Excellent comment as usual mh.

  14. Lucie
    Lucie says:

    This is a fantastic question to ask. After I left school, I think here is what I needed to learn myself … In school, I followed all the rules and did what I was told and I got rewarded for that with straight A’s. It took me some time to realize that the people who succeed most in the real world are not the ones who follow all the rules and do what they are told. School doesn’t teach you to question rules or commands that are stupid. In the real world, you can be an active participant, you can say no to your boss, or you can apply for a job even if you don’t meet all the criteria on the job description etc. School only teaches obedience, which frankly turns you into a disempowered slave in the world of work. School doesn’t teach you that you can have the power to make the rules.

  15. Lucie
    Lucie says:

    Oh and here’s one from the Dalai Lama: “Too much energy in your country is spent developing the mind instead of the heart.”

  16. Liza
    Liza says:

    Back to school and college (especially college), i was dreaming about having a course that would teach me how to learn. “Mental palaces”, chunking, when and how to take breaks, different types of problem-solving, how to space repetitions, how to focus, speed reading.. Learning about the process of learning, not just the content.

  17. Aquinas heard
    Aquinas heard says:

    1. How to judge people
    2. Proportionate responses to injustices
    3. Understanding the relationship between thinking and feeling
    4. Understanding the relationship between your conscious mind and subconscious
    5. Understanding how sexual attraction (why you are attracted to certain people) develops

  18. Tina Brown
    Tina Brown says:

    Besides the fact that my homeschooling kids can learn WHATEVER interests them, they have to learn time management. I have to learn how to not nag.

    Actually, tampons are a standard in any decent medical kit for any bleeding management situation.

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