Imagery by Hana Dallimore Photography
So, what do I wish I had learnt in school? This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately, mainly because the phrase ‘arg why don’t they teach you this in school’ seems to have been used a lot for me, particularly since living in my flat and starting up my business. I know that this is going to be very based on my personal experience and what I learnt during my education, however here in the UK, I do feel like it will apply to the majority of us. Obviously, I completely understand that it is very difficult to design a curriculum that is appropriate for everyone, but to be honest, the struggles I have come into contact with are definitely some things that will apply to all at some stage in life.
I believe entirely that it is important to have a good range of subjects taught in schools, particularly academic subjects such as English, Maths and Science. However, I do strongly believe that we lack subjects that can be used for real life application. I mean, who the hell has used trigonometry since completing their Maths GCSE?
I personally feel like I received a good education in my main stream school, and do believe that my final grades were a reflection of that. Nevertheless, I would love to have learnt more lessons regarding situations that I was going to face in the future and be able to have the opportunity to discuss things then that I now sometimes feel embarrassed to ask because society seems to think that I just miraculously know because of my age. This is so not the case, and if anything, the world we live in is becoming more and more confusing every day.
Taxes & Budgeting
Since starting to be a little more independent, particularly with starting up my own business, I learnt very quickly how little I knew about taxes and how to budget my money. I am a very organised person so I had that in my favour, but no matter how organised you are, if you have never had someone really teach you about these things, why would you just know about them? Obviously, being employed since I was 16, I knew about national insurance, the tax you pay on what you earn etc, however I had never really had to sort it out or really even understand what it meant. I had someone doing it all for me. So, does it not seem odd that something so basic and that we all need to know about, is not taught in schools? And now, living in the flat, it took me a really long time to get to grips with how council tax works, as well as road tax. All these things that we all have to pay need to be highlighted clearly to our younger generation, in order to ensure that everyone knows exactly how everything works.
Bills, Rent and Mortgages
To be honest, this is still something that often baffles me. I have just about got to grips with all the bills and how it all works, even if it is all a complete pain. I am not even talking about the money, but physically getting it all sorted can be so stressful. Rent, I understand, however I do think schools need to teach about the whole process and the general cost. So, the one that baffles me the most is mortgages. I still have such little understanding. So you need a hefty deposit and you pay monthly with interest, however I still wouldn’t have a clue how to start the process of buying a home, how much in general you need as a deposit, and the additional costs endured when becoming a home owner. This is such a big and important step in the majority of our lives, and I just cannot understand why it is something we never get taught at a young age. Perhaps, if we all understood more about how it works, we would all take it more seriously and work harder at making it a possibility.
A More Variety of Job Options
This is something I am very passionate about, as I feel very let down by my education and school with regard to what was offered to me once I had completed my exams. It did seem very much as if it was only ever going to be university and it would be crazy to think of going in any other direction. I know that schools here in the UK are under immense pressure to compete with others, and by having more students go to university their results look better, however university is never for everyone. I strongly believe that schools need to work harder to not only suggest other paths as opposed to university, but also educate us about the variety of jobs that there are in this country. Not once did I ever have the opportunity in school to discuss what I actually wanted to do with my life, or did anyone ask me about my skills beyond the basics lessons we all learn.
At the age of 17, all my friends and I were incredibly excited to start driving. To have some real independence and be able to do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. Still to this day, three years later, I could not live without my car and absolutely love driving. However, since driving, I have really learnt how dangerous and horrible people can be on our roads. People have no patience and honestly, are just beyond rude. In reality, it is probably only ever going to get worse. I don’t think that it is our schools jobs to teach us how to drive or even the technical theory, however road safety and our attitude towards driving could definitely be touched on.
Rules of Employment/ Self-Employment
Now being self-employed and employed, I have learnt so much on how it all works, as well as what you should and shouldn’t let happen. The main thing I have learnt being employed, is that people will try and get away with as much as they can. Being an employee you have a lot of rights and in this country there are a lot of laws put it place to protect us. It sometimes amazes me at how many people don’t seem to understand this. If you are sick for more than 4 working days, your employer has to pay you sick pay or if you are pregnant you are always entitled to maternity pay. Never work without a contract and never be afraid to stick up for yourself. When it comes to money, there is no need to find it awkward, as it is your right to be paid for every hour you work, as well as for unexpected mishaps in life.
Being self-employed, there are obviously a lot less things behind you to protect you, however you do have the luxury of setting your own rules. I will never work without my contract for services, as I feel when I am providing my service to my clients, I am allowed to put rules in place. Never be afraid to stand up for yourself and make the situation work for you.
Marriage & Childcare
I am by no means in this position yet, but under this category I wanted to discuss a few things. The first being marriage. Being a child with divorced parents, I think I speak for everyone else like me in that position, when I say it really is a horrible feeling, especially when you first go through it. My parents’ divorce was by no means pretty and it really did have a big impact on my childhood. Luckily, it hasn’t had an impact on my attitude towards relationships, like it does with a lot of other people. To me, marriage is a very serious commitment and something that should never be rushed or taken lightly. We all love that feeling of a new relationship and feeling like they are absolutely the one, but it always changes down the line. You either grow together or you grow apart. I do think, as part of some sort of life coaching lesson, marriage needs to be brought up and it needs to be highlighted that it really isn’t something that you can decide overnight. There seems to be a very relaxed attitude towards marriage, and I personally think if it was touched on in schools, the divorce rate could potentially be lower.
The second part of this is children. I am guessing that schools still teach about childcare in one of the GCSE subjects, but if you don’t it is never really discussed. I am not saying that they need to spend hours teaching you how to look after a baby or children, but I do think something is better than nothing. So many people who I talk to with their first baby do say how worried they are because they have no idea how to look after a baby. It is such a big part of growing up for most of us, so why is it never talked about in schools? I think just learning the basics and in particular as a woman, learning about pregnancy would have been something that I really could use in the future when I decide to have a baby.
So, what do you wish you had learnt? I would really love for all my readers to get involved with this and share their thoughts!
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