SHELBYVILLE, Ill. (WAND) - Many adults wouldn't think twice about being able to cook for themselves or how the mortgage on their house works, but an entire generation feels it missed out on these basic life skills.
Shelbyville Family Consumer Science Teacher Courtney West said it all started with millennials.
"That's who I hear and see in social media saying, I know how to do my career well, and I was trained up really well in my apprenticeship. Or I learned everything I need to know about my job at my four-year college,” West explained. “But I don't know how to cook breakfast (and) don't know how to buy my groceries without going broke. I don't know how to get out of my credit card debt."
That dilemma is the fuel behind West's "Adulting 101" course at Shelbyville High School. Whether linked to school budgeting or a focus on career training, West said many students leave high school without basic life skills.
"Families can't always spend the time working on teaching how to cook if they're just trying to get food on the table. You know, some people didn't have the benefit of a partner in the home if it's a single-family home. So, if you're just getting by, you can't always pass down how to get by," West said.
SHS Senior Donavan Moore said he grew up in a home where he was taught how to cook and about automotive skills early on, and he practiced them alongside his family members often. As for other practical skills, he said there’s still plenty he needs to learn.
"I don't know how to fill out a checkbook or anything like that and I need to, because that's important. Insurance, I don't know much about insurance, but I know it can be expensive,” Moore shared.
Moore said despite having more to learn, he is looking forward to growing the rest of this semester.
"Just going out of school not knowing what to do, it's going to be really confusing, and you'll probably land on your face,” Moore said. “So, it's really important to learn these skills."
Of course, the biggest cheerleader of the class is excited to see them grow, too.
"The things that don't intimidate me anymore because I've been doing it for so long, I forget that for high school students, it's intimidating to hold a needle, the thread and a button. They've never done it before,” West explained. “My favorite moment is the impactful moments where they get it. Where they go, OK, I can do this!'"
This week, the class focused on properly doing laundry and mending clothes. West said the class will get even deeper as the semester goes on.
"Independent skills. Everything from relationships and conflict resolution, to communication skills, that's kind of where we start," she said. "Then we get into the financial stuff. Insurance, renting versus mortgages, how to buy a car, basic car maintenance. Budgeting, how to save your money, how to spend your money wisely.”
West urges other schools to keep and protect family consumer science classes. She said the skills taught are beneficial to an entire student body, not a select few students.