I think a great course, required to be taken by all students in every university should be Life Skills 101. Taught by faculty who have life skills, and let’s be honest not all of them have any skills beyond their narrow focussed research areas. This course would teach common sense things that were once taught in high schools, like shop class. We strangely enough feel comfortable cramming young peoples minds with theory about this, that and the other, but fail to impart much useful information. What about basic financial literacy? Obviously nobody is doing a good job there because the average Canadian has a debt load of $22K, *not* counting the mortgage. Debt, spending, saving, mortgages, not spending money you don’t have – all valid topics up for discussion. Next, eating. Surprisingly few people have any notion of actually cooking for themselves – not helped by a society where we are surrounded by ready-made food in one form or another. Then you get people saying things like, “oh, it’s cheaper to eat take-away”. Yeah, like it’s not, and you’re not eating well. We have never been surrounded by so much information related to food, cookbooks galore, and blogs/networks dedicated to food. Finally there are the everyday skills that must be learned, just because one day they may be of value. I tire of people saying things like, “oh, manual labour – I don’t like that”. Ok, but then don’t be surprised when a plumber charges you $200 to change a washer. It doesn’t require a lot to learn to change a lightbulb, chop wood for a fire, start a camp fire, paint a room, saw a piece of wood using a hand saw, basic car maintenance etc. There was a time when basic “home” skills were taught in shop class, but sadly shop classes have all but disappeared in many high schools.
Will we ever see this sort of a course in a mainstream university? Probably not, although Harvard did run some non-credit “Life Skills” courses for a while about 10 years ago (don’t know if they still do).