While writing my graduate thesis, I spent a few months working full-time in Vancouver. I was there with many other students, undergrad and grad. I was asked to sign a contract. It was many pages long and included things like number of sick days allowed, how overtime was calculated, and to what benefits we were entitled. Having worked since I was 14, this was old news to me. To others, it was completely new. I was surrounded by people who didn’t know why money was being taken off their paycheque or what overtime was.
These people could write a term paper, argue theory, regurgitate information at the drop of a hat, but didn’t know anything about the real world.
I lovingly call these people ‘institutionalized.’ They’ve been in school their entire lives and have never had a real job. At twenty-five to thirty years old, the job in Vancouver was their first.
More and more we are seeing a disconnect with real life. As urbanites, we’ve lost the connection to where our food comes from, where our waste and water goes, and how the ocean and forests affects our daily lives. Being in school from six years old to thirty years old, is further disconnecting us from the real world. Sure, there’s much to be learned in school. I argue that there’s much more to be learned from living life.
My dad grew up on a farm. He only did one semester at college before taking off to travel around the world. Despite having barely any post-secondary schooling, he:
- built four houses from the ground up (three of which were ours), and he did most of the electrical and plumbing for them.
- owned and ran two small businesses.
- knows how to light the pilot light on a furnace and fix a toilet.
- used to “drag-race” in the 1960s “American Graffiti” days and therefore knows a few things about auto repair.
- knows how to drive a bulldozer and build roads.
- was a hunter and knows how to skin and butcher an animal.
- can cook one helluva a turkey dinner!
All of this he learned from books or hands-on training. My dad is my hero.
While I grew up in the country, I am now urban-bound. I have three degrees from accredited post-secondary institutions. I just learned how to fix my brakes (this past spring). I just started my own business. I cooked my first turkey dinner two years ago under my dad’s supervision. I haven’t built anything tangible — my desk is a couple of old wooden doors on supports. While I’ve spent a considerable time in the bush, I’ve never hunted or trapped. Thankfully I live in an apartment and can call my landlord if the toilet is broken or I don’t have heat. I’m pretty good at growing things; too bad I don’t have a garden.
Compared to my dad, I’m a dismal failure at being able to live in the real world.
I’m not saying that one is better than the other; they’re just different. However, perhaps what I am saying is that when the zombie apocalypse occurs, I want to be around my dad. Or, someone like him.
Questions: What have you learned from real life that you couldn’t/didn’t from school? Would you survive a zombie apocalypse?