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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pass It On

I have been thinking a lot here lately about education and passing on knowledge. I submitted the forms necessary for our area to be "official" homeschoolers this year, as my daughter is of the mandatory reporting age. Our reasons for keeping our children home are numerous and varied. From personal experience, there is so much learning that should happen at home, anyway, that it made a lot of sense for us. Much of that knowledge is of the homemaking variety. My daughter and son can be whatever they choose when they are older, but I expect them to be able to make dinner for themselves, sew clothes if needed, plant a garden and various other homesteading tasks that get easily left behind in modern schooling.

Recently I was given the opportunity to teach some classes at a local farm/store, and I have loved it. I love that the classes exist, period, really, though, as the fact that people will pay to learn something like making jams, making soaps, sewing aprons and cooking from scratch, tells us that priorities are changing, and for the better. There are so many crafts and skills that are getting lost-lost in a fast paced society and also due to changes in priorities. There was a time when schools (and grandmothers) taught girls how to do simple homemaking tasks-basics at the very least-so they could maintain a home when they were older. It didn't matter what path they were going to take-working full-time, having children or not-they needed basic skills. Young men were required to learn how to change the oil in a car and simple woodworking. Currently many of these programs are being cut from schools due to lack of funding and families no longer pass that sort of knowledge on, if they even possess it. I think the priorities of our society have shifted. What is even more troubling is that the older generations have even been removed from these skills in many cases. I know many families where the matriarchs or patriarchs are just as clueless about how to perform tasks many of us in the simple/frugal/green movement do everyday as their younger counterparts are.

Luckily, those of us who have learned, either from the internet, friends, grandparents who have been there, books or other classes are seeing the need to pass on that knowledge. I love showing others how to do things-whether it is mending a garment, recycling a sheet into something new and fun, baking bread or canning the season's bounty. I love to do it whether I am getting paid (which is just a nice bonus for a one income household) or not. I think education is vital for the survival of communities. Many people hear me talk about something and their response is "I didn't know you could do that!". It is important to keep up with our public display of the things we do to open up opportunities to teach others. It isn't that there isn't something for us to learn from folks who live faster, more modern "normal" lives, but much of what we do is getting lost and the only way to preserve these skills, which may be necessary someday-we cannot know-is to teach them, both to the next generation and to current ones.

I end in saying how very tickled I was about the attendance of the sewing class I co-taught over the weekend. A very close friend and I taught an intro to sewing class, and helped the ladies there to sew simple aprons. They were giddy that there was an easily accessible outlet to learn something of the sort, and we were happy to pass the knowledge on. The thing that got me was the ages of the people there; from a teenager (who turned red every time we mentioned tagging her in a picture of her in her apron on facebook for all her friends to see-which we had no intention of doing, but she was so darn cute) to ladies in their thirties and forties. The bread baking class last month had ladies in their fifties. It is awesome to see people willing to learn, no matter their age, and being able to make that happen. If those who have the knowledge do not pass it on, whether to their children or others, it will be lost. Knowledge is one of our most valuable resources, and one that is both easily wasted and easily given. I hope more people take opportunities to give it. It is so terribly fulfilling to see someone use their new skills, and in knowing that they now have the chance to pass it along.

9 comments:

Sense of Home said...

We should never stop learning, something I have written about for my post tomorrow. These are valuable skills you are teaching your children.

-Brenda

martine said...

Excellent post, great to know so many people are learning new things.
thanks for sharing
martine

Paula said...

I have always been about skill acquisition, ever since junior high. Because of that I can sew, embroider, knit, crochet, cut hair, color hair, fix hair coloring mistakes, make curtains, upholster, build bookcases and built-in furniture, tile, drywall, run simple electrical (although I don't mess with plumbing), garden, can, make jam and pickles, bake, cook decent meals out of next to nothing, make pasta and bread from scratch, etc.

I don't have a degree. My four sisters all have degrees. Guess who they call when they need to know how to do something, though....

Gina said...

Thanks for this post. This is the sole reason that I blog - to share with others the things I was taught. I've learned so much from others - that I just have to give back!

Gina

Abby said...

I hear ya, Paula! I have six years worth of work on degrees that I wasn't able to finish because being a mom was so much more important at the time. I have learned so many "real-life" skills since then that I never would have learned in college. That isn't to say I may not someday finish those degrees when the kids are older, but there is so much to learn from each other. I love to learn, I love to teach, and it is so important to give that love and the lessons to others!

Kimberly said...

I think this very thing is what separates my virtual life from my real life. I don't seem to know people in real life that want to learn anything!!! They just say they are too busy and go shopping for whatever.

LindaG said...

Amen. Well said.

denimflyz said...

Great post also.
I think that it depends on the area of the country or what country you are in. In the european countries, it seems these skills are being appreciated and learned and enjoyed. In the US, where I am, I tried to teach, and got no where. I was asked to teach welfare women and single moms home skills, and all I got was a boatload of trouble with very aggressive and drugged-fueled women who in no way wanted to learn anything. A lot of the problem was the fact that they were being "forced" to do this, as these women buy other things besides the food with food stamps. There was so much opportunity to learn, but the people that I was trying to work with, in no way wanted to learn, and to this day, live the way they live.
I learned my home skills from Amish grandparents, which I wish I still had, but their skills are with me still at 51.
Again, excellent post today, and I encourage everyone to learn, if just to keep your brain busy, as someday, these skills will be needed. Even if you catch and teach one person to do something, it is not a loss.

Super Mom said...

I love learning new skills. Now that I am home more (used to work full time but now only work part time), I have more time to learn more homemaking skills. I can make a passable loaf of bread now and this winter I hope to add knitting to my skill set.

Thanks for the article and keep teaching and blogging. Where do you think I get the ideas to try new things from?