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Fixing Things is Incredibly Satisfying.  So Why Don’t We Do More of It?

Posted by Charles Haine on 4/28/2017

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Part of the problem is the neglect of non-testable skills like shop class and home economics. When I was in school, in the 80s, shop class was still mandatory, but was thought of as kind of a joke; an easy A subject for the burnouts and the party kids who had no ambition and no future. Increasingly, that class is being dropped from curriculums across the country.

Home economics, as well, was treated as a “girls class" (this was the 1980s, not the 1880’s, but some things persisted), and was gone by the time I went to high school. My personal last semester of it was in sixth grade.

While I won’t demean Algebra and Trigonometry by saying “I never use them,” since they are applicable to understand many things about adult life, I will say that I have found those things I learned in shop to be just as useful to my adult life, and I probably use them more regularly.

Building a desk, hanging a new door, or talking to the inspector when you buy a new home are the practical realities of the world which require a certain base of information and knowledge. I find myself thinking back to shop class more often than I could imagine, and using the knowledge I got there effortlessly as an adult. Every meal I cook uses some skill I practiced in home eonomics without even thinking about it. We can get it from the Internet, we can get it from our parents, but we no longer get it from school, and that’s a shame.

One of the perks of home economics was sewing, and while I hated learning it at the time, it’s a skill everyone should have, for when a button falls off your shirt or when you want to invent new things from scratch. But, it is a nearly absent skill today.  When I was 16, on a summer-away program living with a family in rural Russia, the mother repaired the holes in my socks. It didn't occur to me until that moment that socks were something even worth repairing. 

The biggest hurdle to overcome is internal. I meet people all the time who say “Oh, I’m not technical,” or “I’m just not handy,” but who manages to drive stick shift or use Instagram filters or cook a meal? Mechanical, technical, wood-working skills can all be learned, but you’ll never learn them if you believe you can’t. 

If you learn how to repair your own shirt, change your own oil, or fix the toaster cable, your relationship to those items change. Without having to remind yourself to “be careful with the toaster,” if you fixed it yourself, you’ll naturally be more careful with it.  If you fixed the last tear in your shirt, you’ll remember to take it off before the next time you climb a tree.  Not only that, fixing what's ripped or broken yourself, may save you money.  Think about it:  you won't have to pay someone else to fix them nor need to buy replacements.  It’s a holistic system, repairing your own things, that changes the way you look at them, and the world.

 

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Occasionally, Logix will invite guest bloggers to post on assorted financial topics. These posts may or may not represent our views

Topics: Consumerism

Meet the blogger

Charles Haine

Charles Haine

A long time artist and contributor to the Citizens of Culture print and web magazine. He writes to promote conscious consumption and the idea of thinking before you spend.The views expressed are those of a discerning young consumer, not a financial advisor and may or may not reflect the views of Logix FCU.

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