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February 22 2017

Adulting School: Millennials Are Signing Up for Classes

by Patrice L. Onwuka

A new lifestyle trend is popping up to fill the needs of the Millennial Generation. It’s not about fitness or craft brewing, but learning domestic skills.

Apparently, despite being the most educated generation, Millennials are behind the curve on the skills and knowledge needed to function as an adult. The market has a solution for that though: The Adulting School.

NPR takes a look at these new schools popping up that teach young adults how to transition into adulthood. From cooking at home to getting your car’s oil changed, these online and offline meetups mix learning and networking into a digestible blend for a generation that is referred to as adult children.

NPR caught up with some Adult-ers:

Carly Bouchard, 29, sat among a couple of dozen young adults sipping drinks at a Portland restaurant and hoping to uncover their true financial self.

"I'm a financial cripple," Bouchard said.

Although she went to business school, Bouchard said, she now needs the Adulting School.

"I'm still a dolt," she said. "Not an 'A-dult' — a dolt — when it comes to my finances."

Co-founder Rachel Weinstein got the idea for the Adulting School from her work as a psychotherapist. She noticed many of her clients struggled with the transition to adulthood. Things like paying bills on time and choosing a career were difficult for them.

The Adulting School, a Maine-based company, started hosting classes last summer. Some of the topics include how to fold a fitted sheet, make a cocktail, and Investing 101.

We won’t fault the free market for providing a solution to consumer demand, but we have to wonder what has led to this a generation falling behind Baby Boomers and even Gen X (not to mention the Silent Generation)? Changes to social norms driven and education policy give us clues.

Home economics at the high school and even college level has gone from compulsory to a relic of the past. Though started in the Midwest, it was cultivated as a discipline by a female MIT instructor in the late 1800s. She viewed home econ as a way to apply scientific principles to domestics to increase efficiency in the home. Things like good nutrition, proper clothing, physical fitness, sanitation, and home cooking were taught as a way to help women run the home resourcefully and free-up time for other things like education and recreation.

After World War II though, a decrease in funding college-level home ec trickled down to the high school level. At the same time, the explosion of convenience foods made homemade meals made cooking skills less needed.

And let’s not forget that the women’s movement of the 1970s and 80s didn’t take kindly to anything that smacked of work in the household rather than the working world. One radical feminist accused home ec into turning young women into “a limp, jibbering mass of jelly waiting for marriage” as a Boston Globe piece highlights, and she wasn’t alone in her thoughts.

The result is what we have today:

Many young Americans now lack the domestic savvy that it takes to thrive. The basics of cooking, shopping, and “balancing a checkbook”—once seen as knowledge that any young woman, at least, should have—are now often not learned by young people of either gender, even as we’ve come to understand their major societal implications. And for adults, these skills have receded as well. In the family of 2013, more than 70 percent of children live with two busy working parents or a single parent, which means more takeout, cheap replacement goods instead of the ability to fix or mend, and fewer opportunities to learn essential home skills within the home itself.

If you weren’t learning life skills at home, school provided that education, but not anymore. Schools now focus on academic disciplines or vocations, so there isn’t much room for the life skills.

Should we be surprised then that we now have a generation which would rather buy a new shirt if they’ve lost a button than figure out how to sew one on or just walk around with a safety pin in its place.

Even worse, financial literacy is alarmingly low among a generation that has the highest student loan debts (about $35,000 for the class of 2016) and are still dealing with unemployment rates double the national average.

Millennials get a bad reputation for being lazy, entitled, coddled, and worse. Some of that may be rightly deserved. However, older generations which pushed so hard to change culture are reaping through us what they messed up a generation or two ago.

At least the free market is willing to offer the education that our primary and secondary education systems – as well as our households – did not.

 

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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