When I went to school, we had the option to take "electives" including Home Economics (cooking, sewing, budgeting, finances, etc.), auto mechanics (basics of car maintenance), building trades (seriously, if you own a home, you need this), agriculture (care and processing of farm animals and crops). We were all encouraged to take advantage of "real life education". I took a semester of auto mechanics, a semester of building trades and a semester of home ec. I can do most auto repairs, run basic wiring and plumbing, replace lighting and plumbing fixtures, frame, drywall, cook, can, budget, and figure taxes (I've never paid to have my taxes done and I've never been audited...yet.)
While I had a pretty well-rounded high school education, most of the credit goes to my folks. Mom and Poppy never discouraged me from seeking knowledge, especially if it was useful. And much of my practical education came from my parents and grandmas. I've told the story of my first car, I worked years of odd jobs and saved every penny I earned. I paid $2500 cash for my 1965 Mustang. And Poppy took the keys until we went over every inch of it, engine and transmission, and he was satisfied I knew how to take care of it. I rotated my own tires, changed my own oil, belts and hoses. I still do all of my own vehicle maintenance.
Every house I lived in growing up was a "handyman special". We were very very low income blue collar, but always owned instead of rented. The first house was purchased from an old farmer for $1000 cash and a $10,000 builder's loan. Two bedroom, one bath, less than 1000 sq ft. Poppy later added a master suite, increasing the square footage to 1200. Total investment was $35,000, they sold it a few years ago after 20 years of being rental property for $98,000. I was too young to do much on that one but fetch tools and carry trash, but the next one was different. The home they're still living in was housing for various fauna out in an old wheat field. Birds nested in the kitchen cabinets and there was animal poop everywhere. When Poppy took mom out to see it, she almost had him committed. Understand, he was working full time and going to college part time and wanting to move this house in next door and work on it in his "spare time". I was 12 when he bought it and 14 when we finally moved into it. This is the house where I got my training. I helped tear out walls, move walls, re frame, pull up flooring, lay flooring, hang drywall, mud and tape and texture, paint and wallpaper, hang cabinets, install plumbing and electrical, pull wires, blow insulation.... every time I walk into that house, I can see something I helped build. I love that house. Two years after he retired, Poppy drew up plans, got a permit, and proceeded to build mom's fantasy master suite, 1000 square feet of luxury and solitude. He finished it in 6 months. She still smiles every time she walks into it. This house, total investment of $60,000, was appraised last year at $148,000. As an adult, I've always owned, never rented, and always homes that I could easily afford and work on to make better. I bless my parents for that part of my education.
Shortly after I graduated, the shift started. College prep was the only field of study promoted, and all the other programs were eventually eliminated from the budget. Lack of interest? Lack of promotion? I'm not sure, but suddenly students were expected to study for two goals: passing standardized tests and going to college. A college education was the end-all and be-all. What was forgotten were all the students who weren't interested in college; whose talents and interests fell elsewhere. For 30 years, a whole segment of society was ignored as Higher Education was shoved down every student's throat. Now we see the damage, the education bubble is about to burst, we have a couple of generations of high-debt, educated people with no skills, and a dearth of skilled workers. God bless Mike Rowe for bringing the sexy back to the skilled trades. We're slowly seeing a shift in the popularity of trade schools and apprenticeships, although high schools are still woefully under serving young people who aren't interested in a BS in Disgruntled Minority Feminine-ish Studies at an overpriced university. Hopefully, when the education bubble bursts, things will change.
In the meantime, Young People of America, if you're waking up to the reality that your practical education has been taken from you in exchange for a mountain of debt and a useless degree, look around you. Find one of us older Americans who you used to mock for being uneducated and unenlightened. If you ask nicely, maybe apologize for being a Liberal twunt, we can share all sorts of amazingly useful skills and information with you. And we might even slip in a much needed lesson in self-reliance, Liberty and the U. S. Constitution. You'd be amazed at what you don't know.