No. 1129



The famous English novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817) once said that a novel is, “a work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the effusions of wit and humor are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language.” As I read this quote, I wondered to myself if she knew how to change a light bulb. Of course she did not, because the light bulb did not come along until 1879 when Thomas Alva Edison gets credit in the traditional sense, even though there were several other inventors before then.
The reason I share this is because of a thought I had some time back regarding what could be a “novel” idea, meaning “new, strange or unusual.” Actually, this idea came to me from my friend Mickey Cox when we were discussing vocational education. We agreed that every college and university should offer a basic course of vocational education. This idea is not to be confused with the traditional vocational schools that offer courses like welding, auto mechanics, small engine repair, carpentry, cooking, sewing or basket weaving.
What we were talking about is the terrific number of college graduates who spend all of their time pursuing a degree in a plethora of different disciplines, but can’t do the simplest tasks around the home because they were never taught how to do them. In most cases it is not about the money, it’s trying to find someone to do the task, especially in an emergency. Again, and I am sure it is not a “novel” idea, but I am suggesting that every college and university offer at least one elective course where students can learn basic hands-on repair jobs around the home.
The attitude of most people who have a college or university degree might be, “I will hire someone to take care of my needs when the time comes that I need someone.” Well, good luck. At our house, we are both pretty good with our hands, but there come those times when we just don’t know how to do the job. We spend a good deal of time trying to find someone who can do what needs to be done, and sometimes we can’t find anyone to do the job.
Don’t you feel that it would be helpful and useful to you for the rest of your life if you had been able to learn how to fix a leaky faucet, trip a breaker in the fuse box that had been thrown, test or repair a small appliance that was on the blink, and to take care of all those other problems that say, “If all else fails, read the directions”?
Before I leave this topic, let me tell you a true story that may be worth considering, especially if you or one or more of your children are facing a career choice. My brother-in-law was telling me recently how he helped his stepson go to welding school because he did not have the money to attend, and would have been confined to low-paying jobs for the rest of his life. This was a six-month course and took place several years ago. He told me that now his stepson has a job that pays more than $90,000 per year, and he is eternally grateful for the help he received back then. You know, sometimes we try to live up to other people’s expectations, get a degree from a prestigious university, and then can’t find a job in the field where we are qualified.
(Editor’s Note: THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY – Begin your day on a positive note – 365 days for $12. This will benefit the Bookcase for Every Child project. Go to to subscribe.)