I recently posted a photo on my timeline that featured Dr. Temple Grandin. Her quote spoke directly to my heart, as well as one of the purposes of us learning to be more self-reliant. In her words, “We’re focusing so much on academics that we’ve taken out things like art, sewing, cooking, woodworking, music, and other things that introduce kids to careers.”


Life is more than just Math Skills

To me, that’s a very scary thought. As a creative person, the very idea of my worth being based solely on my knowledge and skills in mathematics, computer programming, science or geology is heartbreaking. In college, I bombed out in math. On SAT’s and ACT’s I scored high in science, but hated every second of biology, natural science and any other science class I was required to take. In other words, based on the premise that I am only valuable because of my academic leadership, I am an absolute worthless person. Yikes!

Remember the old cliché, “..round peg in a square hole”? Even if you use a sledge hammer and force that peg into the hole, there are still gaps. Had I gone into science as a major, the gaps around my heart would have leaked out every ounce of joy I could ever have. No matter how hard I tried, it wouldn’t have been a true fit.

Then why are we trying to force out the very curriculum that offers a diversity for our children? Not everyone is gifted with mathematical genius. Not every child on this planet wants to become a research scientist, teacher or run a business as the CEO. Those are just not the gifts they were blessed with coming into this world. Take away art, and you will lose the very essence of beauty. Take away sewing, and who is going to create the furnishings for your home? Remove cooking, and who do you think is going to prepare those meals you eat in restaurants? And take away music? The very thought breaks my heart.


Learn the Basics

Children (as well as some adults) need to learn these very basic skills, along with how to fish, grow fruits, vegetables and herbs, care for animals and other life sustaining abilities. This is the very basis of life, and the more skills you learn, the better quality of life you have. I have known some people that can only do one thing. Their coping skills anywhere outside of that realm are non-functioning.

It pains me to see them struggle with something as simple as scrambling eggs, or trying to assemble a child’s Christmas toy. I, by far, am adept at doing everything, but I at least have made sure I am able to do at least the simplest of tasks. And if it is life-sustaining, I do my best to learn it well.

If, however, the system finds a way to remove many, if not all, of these skills, then it will be up to us to teach our children how to do these things. I am a huge advocate of mentoring, and love being able to not only teach others some of the lost creative arts, but I also get great joy at sitting down at the proverbial feet of someone who is willing to teach me something new. If I don’t have anyone to teach me, there have been times that I have taught myself.

It is often a struggle, but there is nothing on earth that can replicate the sheer joy of accomplishment when I finally ‘get it’. I’ve only taken one spinning class, and bless my instructor’s heart, she took one look at the mess I had and said, “Ah, Julie. Don’t worry. We call that ‘Art Yarn’.” Talk about an encourager! I am now more determined than ever to learn the craft of spinning.


Become a Mentor

If you don’t know how to get started in mentoring, here’s an easy way. Look around you. Do you have children? Nieces, nephews, grandchildren, neighborhood kids? Offer to ‘babysit’ for a few hours one Saturday, and in the process, teach them how to bake cookies.

Don’t like to bake? Then teach them something creative that you know how to do. One project that is easy for a beginner, or even an expert, is how to make Rice Bags. These are simple fabric pouches filled with rice. I call them Booboo Bags, as when put in the microwave and heated, they can be used to ease an ache. If put in the freezer, they can help to reduce swelling. You can keep it simple or make it as fancy as you want. Either way, it’s a good way to pass down at least one of the creative ‘classes’ that all children should learn.

If you want to learn to make these great bags – whether for your own use, to teach someone else how to sew, or to give as gifts – then head on over to the DIY page. Simple instructions are listed, and if you still don’t understand the process, just email me and I’ll help you through it.

Want to keep these classes in school? Then start or sign a petition to give to your school board, contact your senator or representative, or even write to the governor. Do whatever you can to keep these skills available to the kids who need and want them!


For a look at the fun side of Mentoring, jump on over to https://www.thefarmwife.com/cooking-possum/


Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.


  1. This article was so inspired I copied a paragraph to use in a later blog. (I’ll let you know when I use it.) I totally agree with you Julie. We need to teach our children life skills. Unhappily, this is because mothers and especially fathers, no longer teach their children what they need to know.

    Sometimes I think our high schools tend to be too quick to shunt students to “technical” or academic tracks without trying to give them more of an over all prep; but I have to admit, the education my son Andrew got at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College did a great job of teaching Intro to Psychology, Interpersonal Communication, Business Math, other so-called “academic” subjects.

    I guess to sum up; we do need to insist that our schools have courses designed to allow kids to learn the life skills that they don’t get taught at home.

    1. Author

      As always, Gary, you are welcome to copy and share for your blogs. I am always interested in your take on it. I just hope someone in the school systems sees this and starts to think, ‘What if…’

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