Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Real Life Induction?

Today, talk off post-primary school induction became a Thing. It's no longer just this far off idea; we've actually been given the information we need to participate in the workshops that serve as induction, towards becoming Real Teachers. It's not as terrifying as I would have thought. Essentially, in the year that I plan to work during to build up my finances for a Masters Degree, I can do all of these workshops that I will need to complete my registration as a teacher. Then, when I actually go job-hunting for a teaching position, I'll be able to get paid. That's always a bonus, right?

It got me thinking, though: what about "real life"? As far as I'm concerned, there are some basic skills for survival in a Capitalist society that are necessary. This includes being able to read a contract, applying for a mortgage, paying taxes, and finding a home. Nevermind the additional extras like knowing how to cook your own meals, knowing how to drive (and knowing your way around an engine!), meeting new people, proposing (either for marriage or for living together... let's just call it Big Steps in a Relationship), or raising a family. What sort of preparation do we have for "real life", even after eighteen years of continuous education?

Surprisingly, this does't really terrify me. How about that? Yes, the idea of stepping out into the world without someone scheduling my September-June for me (yet) is frightening, but the rest of it? I don't know. Yes, it will be weird when I eventually move out of my parents' house. I don't plan on overstaying my welcome (which is why I'm working on various projects to help radically alter my lifestyle towards such big changes), but it's not fear of moving out that's the problem. It's actually just that I can't afford to.

So, thinking this through: what induction do we receive for "real life"? In my school, we studied Maths and Business as part of our Junior Cert. These helped us work out taxes and family finances and all that jazz. So, that's something, right? Except what if you fall into one of two categories: you didn't study these areas, either because of the level you studied at, or the subjects you studied, or you just forget how to some, or all, of it? I fall into the latter category. Proper financial planning for a household isn't currently up there in the Important Things I Can Do. In saying that, I don't currently have a need to know this sort of stuff. I earn enough money to: get to and from college every day, buy lunch a couple of  times a week, buy my writing magazines once per month, buy my comic books every week, go to the cinema every week, and still be able to afford the occasional night out, thanks to additional hours that pop up in work every now and then (thank you Bank Holidays!). I know how much I can spend each week extra, and how much it costs me to do it all. It's just, a "household budget" tends to include a few more things than these very basic things, like regular bills and all the things I don't have to consider while still living in my parents' house.

But that doesn't mean I don't have to know how to do it before I move out. Induction for this sort of thing shouldn't happen at the age of fifteen, and then never again. I need to know how much I would need per month to pay bills (rent/mortgage, gas, electricity, Internet/phone/television, food), on whatever basis for earning I'm actually on (monthly or weekly). My biggest worry here is that I leave something out, or fundamentally mis-calculate and end up in financial trouble right away. (Let's let future Paul worry about that one.)

Thankfully, I know how to do a couple of things: I can make Excel keep up with costs and income for me (yay basic skills in Microsoft Office!) and I can read up on tax rates. This is especially important if I'm to earn money from writing and  not get into trouble with the Revenue Commissioner. Because that would suck.

However, I still think people need to be made aware of this sort of stuff, somehow. I suppose, if I could make it sound like I wasn't planning on moving out on less-than-the-Dole-per-week, I could ask my dad for help in figuring out basic costs. He's good with this sort of stuff. Not everyone is so lucky, but that's one big part of Real Life Induction sorted for me, right?

But what about a mortgage? That's pretty damn scary, and it seems like a massive amount of money for me to consider. I'm fairly sure the minimum amount given on loan for a mortgage is more money than I have ever earned in my entire life. So that's fun. And contracts? Because, you know, books and work and, well, mortgages. All the fun!

What about the additional parts? Those are less frightening in one way. Cooking I can pick up. I can probably force my mum to help me with that this summer, since I'll have much less to do than I'm used to. I'm looking forward to that, anyway. But driving? Um... I don't even own a bicycle. I haven't been responsible for my own safety on the road in eight years. Plus, that's a whole other set of bills. Can I avoid that one for a while? That'll be less scary. The last thing I need is a stack of bills to add to the already insurmountabl pile of imaginay expenses that don't even include keeping up with my basic hobbies.

Do I have to get into the  proposal and raising a family parts? Given my status of Forever Alone, I don't think so, but I think it's worth pointing out that a lot of stuff, from the cooking to the babies tends to be covered in Home Economics over here. I think. I wouldn't know, because it wasn't offered in my school. But there's an opportunity for learning for people, to prepare themselves for "real life".

I don't know what to say for the rest of us. There's an awful lot that needs to be known that I don't believe is taught to people before they leave home. I think a lot of people, present company included, are nearly expected to just land on their feet and figure it out as they go along with their business. That sort of thinking makes me want to hide under my covers. I'd prefer to be prepared for something, even just a little bit, before it actually happens. I think this is where my Real Life Induction begins.

Crap. Now I have to be an adult.

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