• Competency: Is It What I Think It Is?

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    The slogan by Daisy Luther “Raising Competent Kids in an Incompetent World” supposedly has the ability to grab you by the neck and catch your attention.  For after all, the question that should appear in our minds from that catchphrase would be, “with all the technology we have today, our world is…‘incompetent’?!”

    You sometimes see it in movies, when it is like a Dumb and Dumber scene wherein certain characters are somewhat very inept and have to rely on some “knight in shining armor” to save their day in times they are trapped in some dilemma that seem larger than life—whether it be suspense, horror movies, among others—that you shout to tell the characters what to do, and you certainly wish they can actually hear you as you get carried along with the story.  And sometimes, you cannot help but say, “What?  That was so ‘unintelligent’!” and you end up “hating” the story instead of loving it.

    Only to realize that movies, in their oftentimes fictitious state, do reflect reality—in fact, reality is even way weirder.

    If there is a reason why “young people of today aren’t particularly independent” (as described by Luther), we can blame it on major cultural shifts that embrace push-button technology with the power to do “everything” for us.  In a world of “instants”—food, messaging, coffee, domestic services, particularly “everything”—no wonder—to add, that the “education” system “creates” students to “jump in” with the trends otherwise-you-would-be-left-behind, sort of what the “Three Idiots” depicted as that kind of education wherein they are majorly taught all the “whats” and so less “hows”—well, you get the picture.  Aim for the fish, not how to fish kind of existence and there we have it—very 21st century kind of competent.

    Imagine you are on your first year of college living out-of-home on a student apartment building.  Would you be:

    • the one to show others how to do laundry or having ease at operating a washing machine and clothes dryer…
    • the one to teach how to cook actual food that did not originate in a pouch or box…
    • even the one to direct others on how to make a box of Kraft Macaroni and cheese…
    • skilled in changing a tire…
    • making coffee using a French press instead of a coffee maker…
    • having an apartment that had everything needed to solve everyday problems:  basic tools, first aid supplies, OTC medicine, and home remedies…


    • the one “in awe” of your co-student’s ability to do “everything” aforementioned—you being the picture of a very classic jaw-dropping-to-the-floor face as evidence of yourself as a certified expert in naïveté?

    This apparently happened to the oldest daughter of Luther, The Organic Prepper’s freelance writer and editor, when the former came home for summer vacation and had a talk with “Mom” regarding freshman year.  Luther’s daughter exclaimed that her younger sister aged 13 is actually “more mature and competent” than many of the student apartment building kids and she ended up demonstrating doing the laundry.

    This made Luther think on “how life will be when disaster eventually strikes”, which allowed her to come up with tips on how to actually raise up competent kids.  Her concern is centered on the major problem on how people can sustain themselves in acquiring food when they can’t even cook a box of macaroni and cheese and how they can keep warm when they can’t follow an instruction manual in operating a digital thermostat.

    We have to agree—it is a major world problem when it comes to incompetence in life skills.

    She begins with job loss.  The current economy implies that the new generation may not be able to find employment.  To get by would certainly require “certain skills and adaptations” to “stay fed and clean” when you have little to no money.  Here are cost-cutting efforts that kids should be taught:

    • inexpensive, but nutritious, cooking meals from scratch using pantry basics.
    • manual doing of laundry and drying it through hanging.
    • commuting via public transit or independently from certain point of departures to corresponding destinations.
    • budgeting limited cash and prioritizing important things to be paid first
    • mending and repairing of items rather than having them replaced


    Further on are what-to-dos when there is power outrage due to natural disaster.  Certainly, we all have seen the world ravaged with hurricanes, blizzards, superstorms and tornadoes.  Wise kids are supposed to know about:

    • keeping warm in various ways such as safe operation of an indoor propane heater, manipulating the woodstove/fireplace, or bundling up in a tent or sleeping bags in the living room.
    • keeping fed by having enough supplies on hand at home for up to two weeks, be it cereal, powdered milk, granola bars, canned goods, among others.
    • keeping safe by staying in the house to be out of danger and learn basic self-defense and weapons-handling; moreover, understanding the dangers of off-grid heating and cooking, like carbon monoxide poisoning risks in unventilated rooms.

    Illness and injury are inevitable and can occur at any time and keeping a cool head would be imperative.  Luther mentioned that her kids enrolled for baby-sitting and First Aid courses to further their money-making skills and that meant more than bandaging toddlers’ scraped knees.  Should there be cases of injury and illness, kids should be:

    • taking courses in First Aid, CPR, among any other courses offered that is applicable as the more knowledge a person has means the calmer he/she can remain in emergencies.
    • keeping a good basic First Aid kit and having knowledge in using everything inside it.
    • knowledgeable in home remedies for a variety of common sicknesses such as stomachaches, flu, skin irritations, fever, among others.

    Luther also pointed out that a number of young adults do not know how to drive, relying instead on public transit or on friends or family who drive which can be a disadvantage in lower populated areas especially when there is an emergency.  Kids are supposed to be educated on:

    • driving both automatic and standard transmissions.
    • changing a tire which could prevent young adults to be at the mercy of strangers who stop to help should they be stranded.  (Luther’s daughter was not allowed to drive until she knew how to change the tire using the factory jack.)
    • performing minor maintenance (checking oil and other fluid levels, filling up the washer fluid, checking tire pressures and topping them up when necessary, changing the windshield wiper blades, among many other basic technical aspects of maintenance).

    The author tops all the tips with everyday what-to-do life skills.  Young adults should be taught to be prepared for life skills so that they would be able to take care of themselves.  This ensures that kids do not just live in a magical world where everything is doled out—food appearing instantly on the table or worn or dirty clothes reappearing clean and ready to be worn again, as influenced by fairy tales.  With this, Luther enumerates what skills are to be learned.  Today’s young generation must know how to:

    • manipulate basic tools for repairs.
    • prepare a healthy meal.
    • shop grocery in the bounds of budget and have nutritious food for the following week.
    • budget to avoid “too much month and not enough money.”
    • do very basic cleaning (of course, to avoid messes and be organized which is very instrumental to survive in today’s world!).
    • wash clothes inclusive of removal of stains.
    • think independently and question authority.
    • efficiently manage time to get necessary tasks done by the deadlines.
    • wisely differentiate between wants and needs.
    • economize with utilities and consumables.
    • pay bills.
    • be debt-free (with the reality of student loans, worse, the existence of the college credit card racket proliferating on campuses across the country)

    Who can better teach these things and let young adults be trained under supervision?  After all, it is the parents’ duty to prepare their kids to be independent, successful and competent in a world where all can be easily “babied” and eventually “crippled” by the constant thirst and search for convenience.  Moreover, competence does not just mean being on top and having the world in your hands with the expedience of pushing and clicking buttons.

    Luther at a time “always thought” that she “was secretly lazy” for having insisted that her “girls be able to fend for themselves,” but like any parent with foresight she knew what would be coming.  This certainly makes her kids rise up from among the “average” young adults, and gives competence another meaning—its true meaning.  Well, what do you think?  Wait…here’s a better question.  What about you?  Are you “competent”?

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