Loss Of Basic Life Skills

I suppose I have been quite lucky when it comes to DIY jobs that need doing around the house.  Despite all of his faults my Ex was extremely good at DIY tasks and I also have a Father who is good at this type of thing too.  Ask either of them to make something and they could do it.  I put this down to their schooling.

My ex was 12 years older than me and was therefore in his secondary education during the 70’s.  My Dad was schooled in the 50’s.  Back then Girls learnt homemaking skills and Boys did woodwork.  There really was no crossover with what each gender was taught and these classes were compulsory.

Fast forward to my secondary education in the 80’s.  From the first year both sexes did cooking and both did woodwork.  As the range of ‘art & tech’ subjects were so much greater than in the schooling of my ex and Father the time spent of each subject was reduced as you also had to fit in Art, Fashion & Textiles, Pottery and metalwork. However, when it came to GCSE options none of the arts were compulsory.  In my honest opinion this has lead to the decline in skills of my generation and those after.  The number of people I know who are unable to cook a meal from scratch, sew on a button or do basic DIY such as putting up a shelf is quite shocking.

I will take my Brother as an example.  Three years younger than me and really has no idea how to do basic DIY tasks around the home.  Part of this is clearly down to education.  My Brother was not taught these skills and when he got a home of his own, my Father rushed to do all the jobs for him and still does.  He lives in a modern house with cavity walls and when his wife wanted a picture hanging he had no idea how to do it.  My Father ran to his aid.  I know he is not alone.

I must point out at this point that I am most certainly not saying boys should do woodwork and girls cookery & ‘home making’ skills.  I truly believe both sexes should do both and by the time they leave home should have these skills.  Both sexes should be able to cook a meal from scratch.  Both sexes should be able to do basic home maintenance.  Both sexes should be able to iron their clothes.  Both sexes should be able to sew on a button.

Now although my ex and Father could literally build anything I asked them to, actually getting them to do it was another thing.  Both of them would spend more time giving reasons why they couldn’t do something than it actually took them to do it.  Over the years by assisting them both I have learnt a few things about ‘wood working’.

Last July when we opened the shop I asked my Dad if he could find a easel type sign for me to put outside the shop.  He declared he could make one cheaper.  I said ok and gave him measurement for what I wanted.  Fast forward to last month when I am still waiting for the board.  I decided to make it myself.  Off I went on the Saturday morning with the kids to buy some wood.  Five minutes later and £6.47 lighter the kids wee walking down the road with a piece of 2 x 1 that was 4.5m long.  Down the high street they went and in to our shop.

Out came my saw and a left over piece of plywood from the window display stand.


Then my screwdriver and drill.

Finally, a new sign to put outside the shop.


I was absolutely amazed by some of the comments I received when I said I had made this sign.  People genuinely didn’t believe me.  It was as if just because they didn’t know where on earth to start, neither did anyone else of their age.

The fact I actually personally owned the tools to do this was a fact people were stunned by.


Why are people stunned that I own a drill, screwdriver and saw?

Why are they stunned I can actually use them?

I really believe these basic ‘life skills’ are being lost and I am certain that my children will not leave home without having the knowledge to cook, sew, put up a shelf, saw wood and use a screwdriver and drill.

Should these skills be taught in school?  If so many people of my age can’t do such small simple jobs around the house, how are they going to teach their children?

Is cooking, sewing and DIY jobs becoming a dying art?  Is it simpler to pay someone to do these jobs for us or throw away clothes and buy new just because a button has fallen off? Yes, I do know somebody who did this.

Are you able to do little jobs around the house?

Will you be teaching your children these important life skills?

Linking up with #loudnproud because i’m proud of my ability to be able to do something like this all by myself.



  1. 2nd June 2014 / 11:41 am

    I’m with you on the practical lessons we used to have at school. I can’t believe how many people can’t cook from scratch – and how little they know about basic food stuffs. As well as cookery I got to do needlework and spinning (?!), I’m afraid I went to an all-girl school that hadn’t at that time branched out into woodwork or metalwork. Recently my mum has been teaching my girls how to knit, which I have completely forgotten to do – it’s lovely to watch them acquire a skill. My husband is very ‘handy’, so I must make sure he teaches my daughters how to do DIY stuff too.

  2. 6th June 2014 / 6:55 am

    Fantastic post – and I’ll admit I’m very impressed by your woodworking skills. I’m afraid I’m like your brother. I can do NOTHING. Not DIY, not cooking, not sewing. My husband isn’t brilliant at DIY, but he’s good enough and my mum sews all the boys’ Scout badges on for us!

  3. 6th June 2014 / 6:57 am

    Well done you on making it. I did sewing and HE at an all girls school and I’d say I could do the basics with sewing and rather better at cooking. No woodwork or metalwork. I have done bits of DIY though, but my brothers are so handy (and fairly willing), so they have done stuff for me. Hubby is hopeless and these days we get our handyman. It is frustrating sometimes as I have to save up a day’s worth of jobs, but then he comes and makes everything right.

  4. 6th June 2014 / 9:06 am

    I have HE in elementary and all of high school so its mostly cooking and sewing. That A frame stand is amazing. You added good bracing at the back so looking at it, it will withstand strong winds =) #pocolo

  5. 6th June 2014 / 10:14 am

    Have to admit I am useless in all departments, cooking, DIY, sewing. Hubby is a carpenter so that makes life a lot easier. I totally love your sign though – very impressed.

  6. 6th June 2014 / 12:38 pm

    I absolutely agree with you. There’s many people of our generation who have no DIY skills whatsoever! I taught my son to make a cheese sauce the other day and this weekend I’m planning to get him sewing his own badges on his cub sweatshirt – the worst job in the world!

  7. 6th June 2014 / 1:02 pm

    I always think that my cookery O level (I’m old!) from school taught me much more in the way of life skills than my other qualifications. I’m sometimes amazed when people say they cannot cook, but on the other hand I’m useless at DIY. My other half sometimes repairs things but after a couple of expensive mistakes I prefer to get in someone who knows what they’re doing! #pocolo

  8. 7th June 2014 / 9:31 am

    I’m useless at simple jobs around the house! So is my OH! Picture needs hanging? I’ll bang in any old nail :-/ No idea how to put up a shelf! I think it should be compulsory in schools #WeekendBlogHop

  9. 7th June 2014 / 9:42 am

    Indeed they r becoming a dying skill its all technology now the life skills u need r forgotten about and u need to rely heavily on others great post BTW #bloghopweekend

  10. 8th June 2014 / 9:33 am

    Well done you, I’d be super proud too! I worry lots about the lack of basic life skills in the world, but hopefully being super aware will mean we can educate our own kids…and really that’s all I can do. Great post 🙂 #pocolo

  11. 8th June 2014 / 12:38 pm

    What a great post! Well done you on that sign – it is brilliant. I totally agree , life skills should be taught in schools. I am sure that they used to be far more than they are now!! In this house it is me who deals with the DIY – Ross would not have a clue! Thank you for linking to PoCoLo 🙂 x

  12. 8th June 2014 / 12:41 pm

    The Mothers say – What a truly awesome post and we whole heartedly agree with you on this. Lucas and Grace think your sign is VERY cool. High-5’s #pocolo

  13. 9th June 2014 / 10:49 am

    great sign, i tend to do small diy work around our house, unfortunately nowadays not all men can handle handy work

  14. 9th June 2014 / 10:34 pm

    You make some great points…my secondary education was in the 80s too, and, like you say, both boys and girls did all subjects which is great, but, we weren’t taught anything useful particularly. I don’t know whether health and safety had kicked in already but I distinctly remember one ‘cookery’ lesson where all we did was pour cereal and milk into a bowl! To fill out the time we were allowed to go and pick a flower to put in a little vase on the “breakfast” tray…ridiculous!

    I did like making a mouse in woodwork with leather for a tail and tiny nails for eyes but I wouldn’t have a clue how to put up a shelf!


  15. 13th June 2014 / 10:54 am

    Fabulous post! I am completely inept at all things DIY or vaguely crafty. My brother, on the other hand, despite my dad moving out of home when we were young, and being schooled in the 90s, is a dab hand at anything and everything.
    Your sign looks fantastic, I love it!
    Thanks for linking up with #WeekendBlogHop!

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