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.
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.
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.
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.