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Learning adult skills

There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. Will Rogers

The following graphic came from Stephen Abram's blog post: Adulting 101: When libraries teach basic life skills.


  • The first question I had was "Where in the heck were these classes when I was 16-25?"
  • The second question I had was "How did I learn the skills I needed to function independently as an adult?"
  • And the final question was "What additional skill classes should this public library add to its curriculum?"

The public library in my young adulthood (think late 60s, early 70s) was a far more traditional place. I don't know if they offered classes of any kind at all - only books, magazines, and reference materials. The library had its role in an information scarce environment and filled it well. Today's best libraries, like the one at which Adult 101 classes are taught are filling non-traditional needs for a changing society. Very cool.

So how did I learn how to heat up a can of soup or change a fuse or check the oil in my car? In a nuclear family these things were just part of life. I learned from my parents, my grandparents, my friends. Many kids still learn adult behaviors in the same way, but it seems we have more kids who may not have this home support, necessitating the need for Adult 101 classes. More's the pity.

What other Adulting 101 skills should be added to the interesting curriculum above? (Feel free to suggest your own in the comment section.)

  • Healthy eating and life-long exercising
  • Calculating interest on loans and long-term savings
  • Participatory citizenship - voting, attending caucuses, communicating with legislators
  • Maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships
  • Discussing without arguing
  • Balancing one's work and family and self time
  • Understanding what research shows leads to life happiness

As Will Rogers suggests in the opening quote, there are things that cannot be taught, only learned through experience. There people who cannot be taught, only be given the opportunity and time to learn. But for many, libraries and schools who do offer classes in being an adult will be a blessing.

I hope the practicalities of adult living are a growing part of both library and school classes.

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