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12 Skills That Are Becoming Obsolete

There are certain skills that aren't taught in schools, that parents just handed down to children as they performed those tasks, like reading a map or changing a tire. But now kids don't see their parents do those things, for one reason or another, so they don't learn them, and they don't have to. But is that a good thing? I give my younger daughter a hard time about relying on GPS for navigation, but she manages to find her way around even where there's no wifi, since she didn't listen to me when I told her not to talk to strangers, either. We lament that the younger generation doesn't know how to write a check, but do they really need to?

Considerable has a list of 12 skills that young people no longer learn. I can do all these things, but a couple I just don't do anymore, because it's easier to hand off those tasks to professionals. Whether they actually matter is the real question. Sure, you can get through life without knowing how to sew or read cursive, but if you had those skills, you could have the custom curtains you otherwise couldn't afford, or read your father's old love letters.

(Image credit: Zirguezi)

What do you think of this list of obsolete skills? Check all that apply.









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I don't know how to hand-start a car engine. I don't know how to use a stick telephone (tap the handle several times to get the attention of an operator in the telephone office, then tell her who I want to call?) I barely remember seeing vacuum tube testing machines at the grocery store and don't know how to test if they are bad. My Mom stopped making clothes for us when the price of new clothes was cheaper than the price of fabric to make them at home. What about using belts for sanitary napkins, as in the original version of "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret" instead of adhesive?
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I read an article once that one of the benefits of cursive is that it can help people who have dyslexia. Since the letters are not symmetric at all and require a clear beginning and end point to the letter, it is harder for the brain to reverse the order of the letters, I think in both writing and reading. I also use it in art from time to time, and will use it at work to make lists and agendas when it has been a hard day. I find the process relaxing and calming having to slow down to make the writing neat.
I can't help not thinking of the post apocalyptic scenarios (which seems more likely every day) when I think of the map, compass, and sewing skills. I can do the map and compass skills and will usually read the direction, copy them down, and memorize/draw the map instead of an app when driving. I think this comes from all my time using paper maps before electronic navigation. I want to learn how to sew though.
The stick shift debate: always wanted to learn stick but haven't. No need unless you can afford a sports car or are a valet that parks cars.
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I can do all of these things. In fact, I have done most of these things in the last year. Sadly, card catalogs have gone the way of the Dodo. I enjoyed browsing the subject listings in the card drawers. Cursive? I'll go you one better. On a daily basis, I still use fountain pens.
My kids know most of these things.
People should learn most, or all, of these skills.
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My kids went to parochial school, where they learned both typing and cursive. My older daughter has such good handwriting that she's made money addressing envelopes for wedding invitations and making calligraphy signs.
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A student approached me and asked for a stamp. He said that his professor, whom I know is not, shall we say, computer literate, insisted on receiving a self-addressed stamped envelope if he wanted the grade mailed in. The professor does not use email.
It took a bit of effort, but I found a stamp. I then had to teach the student how to address an envelope, as he apparently was unfamiliar with the task.
It was an astonishing meeting of two extreme ends of technological competence.
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I haven't driven a manual transmission since I was 15 or so, so I doubt that I could do it again without re-learning. I have never balanced a print checkbook. And I learned the hard way about a year ago that I no longer know how to sew when I tried to add a patch to my karate uniform.
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