Thursday, August 13, 2009

Crash Course in Survival Skills

An interesting article in a Chinese paper today talks about how many of the 90s generation who are going to college and university this fall have no clue how to look after themselves.
Up until now parents were so concerned about their only children getting into good post-secondary institutions that knowing how to wash clothes or cook took a back seat.
Student Li Jiarui was constantly told by her parents, "Dont spend a minute doing housework. High marks in the entrance exams is our best return from you, so you study, and we'll clean and cook."
She duly returned the favour, getting a high score of 480 on her gaokao or entrance exam. But now her parents have another anxiety.
"My daughter has never done any housework at home before," says Li's mother. "I am worried about whether she can clean up her room or wash her clothes properly when she gets to Beijing."
So in the last few weeks before classes start, many parents are giving their children crash courses on housework.
Zhang, the father of an undergraduate also recounted that as soon as his son received the letter that he was accepted into university, his wife became so worried about his survival skills that she began training their little emperor on how to do household chores.
"We taught him how to wash clothes, cook meals, sew and mend clothes, shop and deposit or withdraw cash at the bank," he said.
A university student doesn't know how to withdraw or deposit money at the bank? Shocking.
But the parents defend themselves, saying he woke up at 6am to go to school and didn't finish his homework until 11pm. On the weekends he took extra math and English classes to boost his marks.
"On the weekends we hated waking him from his sleep for the extra classes, so making him do housework was the farthest thing from our minds," he said. "To live a happy life in the future, you must have a good job, and for that you need a good university background, not good cleaning skills." Zhang said.
How ironic for parents pushing their children to get a university education, and yet not teaching them the basic skills of looking after themselves.
Now there are calls for the education system to offer home economics courses to secondary and university students.
Currently some universities do have such courses, but few students take advantage of learning these survival skills.
Education expert Zheng Ruoling of Xiamen University says parents should teach their children the importance of housework and that they should make time for these chores.
"Good exam marks are only a part of a comprehensive quality of a person. Children should learn about the hardships of life through their parents and should understand rooms do not clean themselves and so on," she said.
"Parents who do make their children help out with the daily chores help them improve their independence and sense of responsibility."

Imagine millions of young men and women in their late teens learning how to mop the floor and fold their clothes right now...

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