Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
I clearly remember Sidney Poitier playing the part of Mark Thackeray in the epic movie, “To Sir, With Love.” He had been hired to teach a group of inner-city high school students, but he soon found himself involved in their lives.
His students weren’t ready to graduate, let alone ready for real life. So Thackeray took matters into his own hands, starting by teaching them respect, then teaching them everything from making a salad to filling out a job application.
In short, he taught them how to survive real life once they graduated.
There is much to be said for the model of teaching that Poitier displayed, especially when you compare it to what is called teaching in today’s schools. With political correctness and gender studies replacing the 3 R’s, the students of today graduate even less ready to face life than the class of disinterested misfits that Poitier took under his wing.
Even worse, our children graduate from school with little idea of how to survive a disaster. In a world that is growing increasingly dangerous and unstable, the most important skills are being ignored in favor of political indoctrination.
If education is supposed to prepare our children to face the real world, then there are a number of survival skills that should be part of the curriculum. Some of these were actually taught to our children in the past, while others have never been part of any “normal” school’s curriculum.
Nevertheless, chances are pretty high that the next several classes of graduating seniors will need these skills at some point in their lives.
During World War II, the federal government encouraged people to grow “Victory Gardens,” providing as much of their own produce as possible so the food grown on farms could be sent overseas to the troops. Many people continued doing this even after the war was over, making them much more independent than people are today.
A few years before that, during the Great Depression, people stood in soup lines just so they could get a bite to eat and stay alive. The difference between these two times is striking. Yet today we are more like the people who couldn’t feed themselves during the Depression than the ones who grew Victory Gardens.
Considering the state of our nation’s economy, chances are high that we will be face a financial collapse as big as the Great Depression. Those that can grow a vegetable garden will be able to feed themselves. Others will have to depend on government handouts.
But when there are no handouts available, those people will starve. If you’re interested in starting the ultimate backyard garden, check out Backyard Liberty.
2. Animal Husbandry
Before the Industrial Revolution, the United States was a largely agricultural society. The vast majority of people lived and worked on family farms, raising crops and animals as well. This made them self-sufficient, able to feed themselves without having to go to the general store.
Today there are fewer and fewer family farms. 4H clubs are shrinking, and most children don’t know the first thing about farm animals. Yet animal husbandry is a basic life-preserving skill, especially in a case where society collapses or the supply chains are shut down.
Between raising vegetables in the garden and animals for meat, our children would be able to feed themselves. What’s more important than survival?
3. Firearm Safety and Marksmanship
For many a family on the frontier, the only meat on the table was what you shot yourself. While the country no longer has enough wildlife to feed our growing population, the ability to hunt increases our children’s chances of survival.
But there’s a much more important reason for our children to know how to shoot accurately: to protect themselves. During major disasters, nearly every type of crime skyrockets. The day may come when children will need to defend themselves.
As they say, “When seconds count, the police are there in minutes.” But before that day comes, find an instructor and avoid making stupid mistakes.
4. Basic First Aid
Our medical industry is excellent, making huge advancements over the last several decades. But even the most well-trained doctors can’t do patients any good if they can’t get to them quickly enough. In many cases, the first minutes are the most critical and will determine if the patient survives, as well as how much permanent damage is inflicted on them.
Not knowing basic first aid literally makes one’s family less safe. Yet society has left that knowledge to the professionals. Every child needs to know basic first aid skills, even if the worst injury they ever have to deal with is a skinned knee.
5. Dealing With Natural Disasters
Of all the possible disasters we can face, the most likely is a natural disaster. Nowhere in the country is completely safe. If it isn’t hurricanes, it’s tornadoes. If it isn’t tornadoes, it’s earthquakes. If it isn’t earthquakes, it’s floods. If it isn’t floods, it’s blizzards.
On average, we all face some sort of natural disaster every six to eight years. With that in mind, not teaching our children how to survive them is irresponsible. Check out our disasters category for more information.
6. Bushcraft Skills
Bushcraft is a wide-ranging category that covers everything needed to survive in the wilderness such as finding and purifying water, starting a fire, and building a shelter. Sadly, the vast majority of our society doesn’t have the foggiest idea of how to do these things. But in many scenarios, these things could mean the difference between life and death.
Anyone can find themselves in a survival situation. Whether they get lost in the woods, trapped in their car during a blizzard, or stranded on a beach after an airplane crash. The thing is, one never knows when those problems will strike or who will be struck by them. That’s why everyone needs to know how to survive in the wilderness, regardless of who they are or where they live.
Many of these same skills can be used for urban survival as well. Fire starting is fire starting, regardless of whether you’re trying to start the barbecue pit or start a fire to help you survive a blizzard. It’s amazing how few people actually know how to start one quickly and easily. Perhaps if more people learned this in school, less would die of hypothermia in the winter.
7. Living Without Electricity
Finally, the biggest risk the U.S. faces is that of a high-altitude EMP attack which would shut down the electrical grid and destroy all our electronics. We are a society addicted to our devices, and our children are even more addicted than we are. Yet people managed to survive for millennia without them.
According to a report by the EMP Commission, 90% of our population would die in the first year after an EMP. Yet nothing is being done to prepare or protect our country from such an event.
Should North Korea, Iran, or ISIS actually get to the point where they have intercontinental nuclear missiles, it could spell the end of our country. Not teaching our children how to survive such an event is consigning them to death.
Here are 15 questions to ask yourself before the power goes out.
What Would it Take?
Unfortunately, these skills aren’t likely to be taught in schools anytime soon. And the frustrating thing is that it wouldn’t take much. While there would be some costs associated with buying the necessary materials to teach those classes, it would be no more expensive than teaching a science class.
The real problem is the lack of trained teachers. In the beginning, adding these to the curriculum would require thinking outside the box. Schools would have to find local authorities on these subjects and hire them to teach. Then the students would have true experts to teach them rather than just books.
These sorts of classes would probably have less discipline problems than others, even with students who are normally troublemakers. Learning hands-on survival skills is fun and interesting, and it can easily capture the imagination of children who might not be as interested in more intellectual pursuits.
If nothing else, it would give them the chance to stand on their own two feet and gain the self-confidence that is so essential for survival.
When I was still teaching, in Driver’s Education I made sure they knew how to change a tire, among other things. ‘Oh my gosh'(!) that wasn’t in the curriculum! Sometime we have to teach outside the box a little. Can be tough if you have a narrow minded boss/administrator (who only wants the ‘curriculum’, or ‘standards’ taught).
I am sure that a lot of the kids in school would love to take those courses just for fun. I once took a banking course instead of being bored at a study hall!
Your article would be taken more seriously if it were not followed by a woman with insufficient clothing to cover her more than ample bosom asking if I have found Miss Right. It is true that 4-H and Boy Scouts can teach these things, but what is wrong with the parents having some quality time with the family while teaching and participating in these activities?
I don’t choose those ads. They are custom ads based on your Internet usage.
That must be true, that didn’t show up on my computer, the following add was for Children International…..
You might do what I do. I am 69 in bad health with bad eyes. I don’t read the article when I open it I simply download it as a PDF and then I put it on my computer and print it out. There are no ads in the downloads. I then put the ones I plan on keeping in a notebook with the name of the site I got them from. Saves me having to see ads I don’t want to see.
Joey McGuire says
I love your list of survival skills that should be taught in school. I would add carpentry, however. Things are going to break and need to be upgraded and fixed. Basic carpentry, it seems to me, would be a necessity. Awesome article. Thanks for sharing!
I am a public school science teacher, and was looking at this post to get more ideas of real-world science I can do with my students. We already have constructed a large garden, I teach basic first aid as part of a science elective, CPR training is now required for graduation in my state, and natural disaster survival is a part of the Earth Science curriculum. This article provided some very good ideas. Although shooting would be very difficult to safely implement, there are many places that more orienteering and survival skills could be added into my classes.
However, your tone in reference to public schools was discouraging. I do not spend any time teaching political correctness, and know of no school in my area that offers gender studies. I do insist that my students speak respectfully to each other and do not allow bullying. I don’t know if that qualifies as “political correctness”, but it does keep me in compliance with my state’s anti-bullying laws, and teaches my students to be decent human beings. I don’t have any time to spend on political indoctrination, and don’t know of any teachers who do. I’m too busy trying to teach my students the state-mandated science curriculum, because all students, regardless of IQ, psychological problems, or learning disabilities, must pass difficult state exams to graduate with a diploma. This pushes many schools to cut back on hands-on activities, field trips, and anything not directly related to state tests. If you want to see change in schools, it should be this emphasis on testing that you fight. Believe me, educators are no more happy with having to cut out these real-world learning activities than you are, but it’s not any mythical “political correctness,” “political indoctrination” or “gender studies” that are causing the problem, it’s the emphasis on testing for all students. Teachers aren’t the enemies here.
Thank you for the good ideas. I look forward to finding ways to incorporate more of them this year.
Concerned Survivalist says
It’s the old story of the Ant and the Grasshopper.
IN a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest. 1
“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?” 2
“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.” 3
“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food, and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:
“IT IS BEST TO PREPARE FOR THE DAYS OF NECESSITY.”
One reason I like Boy Scouts. My son is currently a Life Scout (one below Eagle).
Scouts have taught him. First Aid, camping skills, Marksmanship with a .22 rifle, a shotgun, and black powder rifle. He’s also be taught how to shoot a bow and arrow. Bushcraft skills such as reading and using a compass, building a shelter from his surroundings, fire making, water purification skills.
He’s also learned animal handling skills, canoeing, sailing, hiking and a bunch of other skills.
EXACTLY, Boy Scouts, maybe 4 H, these skills would be learned.