Back to the Essentials

Boyd Grayson, Middle School Science Teacher
Growing up in a public-school system in which a chalk board, notebook paper a pencil and a book were about the only essentials you needed to learn, I think I turned out okay. The school district also taught home economics, shop phonics along with the three R’s! The list to follow is, what I think, what today’s kids are missing out on. I know I am old fashioned, but I’m good with that.
  • Mending and Sewing –Mending and sewing skills are incredibly handy, and everyone should know how to do it. Yes, I can sew a button!
  • Basic auto maintenance – Changing a tire, checking/changing the oil, changing the battery–I’m not talking about becoming a mechanic, but everyone who drives ought to know basics. Thanks Dad!
  • Basic house maintenance – You might not need to build a house but putting up curtain rods and changing out light switches really isn’t that hard. I’ll try anything once. If it doesn’t work, THEN I’ll call an expert.
  • Reading a map – GPS and smartphones are no excuse to not know how to read a map. Paper or electronic–being able to figure out where you are on a map and how to get where you want is important. Besides, computers break down and batteries run out.
  • Cursive Writing – Not only is cursive writing just beautiful (and not taught in many schools), but it will also improve kids’ handwriting skills. Many times, I’ve been complimented on my handwriting.
  • Thank You Letters – I don’t know when we stopped writing “thank-you” notes for things, but this skill should be for more than just holidays. Thanks Mom!
  • Writing letters in general – Back in the day, before texting took over, people had to write actual letters to each other and let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like getting a handwritten letter in the mail! I recently wrote my sister. She freaked!
  • How to Use a Camera – I’m not talking about the camera on a smartphone, but a real camera. I’d do it if I could afford the film!
  • Gardening/Growing Things – I’m not saying everyone should be a horticulturist but knowing how to plant and grow flowers or veggies is something every kid should learn. I can kill a cactus, but I keep trying!
  • Budgeting – Figuring out how much you have coming in and going out and making that work without credit or overbalancing your account is essential and, sadly, something few people can do. BTW…Mrs. Grayson is a lot better at this than me…thankfully!
  • Dancing – I mean the old-fashioned, fun and even elegant couple dances. The kind you aren’t embarrassed to do in front of your parents, like swing dancing, the foxtrot, square dancing—and in my case…. the Texas two-step!
  • Making a Fire – Knowing how to start a fire with and without matches. I’d show those rookies on Survivor a thing or two!
  • Ironing – For heaven’s sake, teach kids how to iron so they don’t just wear wrinkly shirts all the time! Yup, ask Mrs. G if I iron or not!
  • Dressing Up Properly – Yoga pants, blue jeans and khakis are not dressing up. I mean really dressing up: dress pants and shoes, dresses, makeup, the works! Even if it’s only occasionally, dressing well will really get you far. I’ll take a line from the movie Trading Places, “Looking good, feeling good!”
  • Reading a recipe – Not everything should come in a box with instructions. Teach kids how to read a recipe and cook from scratch. It tastes better and is healthier! I just made my mother’s gumbo from her handwritten recipe! Sorry…it’s a SECRET recipe!
  • Baking – Nothing, and I mean nothing beats home baked goods. My scratch biscuits are to die for!
  • Storytelling – We can’t all be Chaucer or Hemingway but knowing how to communicate and tell a story is an important and overlooked social skill. I HAVE been told my stories are too long and “get to the point!” ….but I don’t care!
  • Reading an analog clock or a watch – There are still “a lot” of these around. Too many times kids are seen looking very perplexed when they see one. Some things are timeless! Get it?
  • Walking or riding a bike to school – not much to say about this except, “To this day, I still miss this!
Is it true that “progress” is the best pathway to our future? Hmmm…... I wonder.

Boyd Grayson is a  graduate of Texas Tech University with a degree in geology.  Boyd taught middle school science at Greenhill School in Dallas before coming the North Carolina. He built a successful Science Olympiad program in Greenhill and brought his experience to O’Neal resulting in a healthy record of accomplishment for Science Olympiad state appearances.

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Southern Pines, NC 28387

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