December 21, 2009

Preserving Skills and Knowledge for Future Generations

 Sometimes it may seem that our generation is reinventing the wheel by learning traditional skills and learning from historical sources. Sometimes when I try to learn something, older people will say things like "We used to have to do that," or " Why do you want to do that? We used to do that when we were kids for play." It's hard to explain. Yes, I know other people have learned and done the things I like to learn; but, most of them are older and will not be around forever.

If there is one thing I learned from studying history, it is that you never know what to expect. Not that I think we need to train for apocalyptic war, but I think a few life skills would not hurt us. We never know what to expect. Some "advances" are actually making us stupider and leaving the new generation without critical thinking skills. How many of us know people who can not use a map and must rely on GPS and Mapquest? When I had my first job, I worked with a girl who couldn’t tie her shoes; her mother would tie them for her (at 16!) Only half of the employees there could tell time on an analog clock. My sister's friend repeatedly runs out of gas because she relys on an automatic gauge in her car that says " X miles until empty," and cannot do the math to figure out if she has enough gas to get to a gas station. One time, my sister and her friend called me in the middle of the night to pick them up because they ran out of gas and her father ran out of gas on the way to pick them up. It is unfortunate. I wish more people took an interest in real life skills and not “job” and “society” skills.

We know from history what happens when people do not have the required skills to feed, clothe and protect themselves. At Jamestown, many men did not know how to do anything but be “men of society.” Many of these men died, the others were at the mercy of the Native Americans. The “Pilgrims” had to steal food from the Native Americans and loot graves—a grisly scenario. Could you imagine being hungry enough to dig food and pots out of graves?

I am not saying we should all be crazy survivalists, I only think that working with our hands is the natural way of things. When we get disconnected with directly receiving the fruits of our labor, not important things seem really important when they shouldn’t. Industrial production of goods has made all manufactured goods cheaper than they can be made at home—but is this really a good thing?

An Article on GPS: Steered Wrong
A Death said to Be Caused by GPS: Boy Dies
These People are Very into Real Life Skills(I think this is fascinating although I am not a survivalist) : Primitive Ways 

*Note: The second picture is me learning to blacksmith with leading blacksmith Kelly Smyth. 

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