Adult 101: Everything you wish you learned in high school

My “pet” program that I started here almost as soon as I was promoted to a library associate is called Adult 101. It spawned in a way from all those pictures you see floating around the Internet lamenting all the important life skills you don’t learn in high school in favor of things like “useless” Calculus and Algebra. Pictures like this:

Things I never learned in high school

image source

(Although as one 9gag commenter so astutely noted, there is only one Pythagorean Theorem so I probably wouldn’t trust this image creator to tell me too much about that either.)

Still, I see these a lot, and I got to thinking – what if we at the library took it upon ourselves to teach these things? I did a bit of researching and realized that, well, there are a few other librarians who had the same thought, in different iterations. I designed my program and called it Adult 101.

The idea would be that every month I would have a very short presentation on a topic of vital importance to teens on the verge of independence. The shortness would be key – our teens come to us after a long day of school and don’t really want to be lectured at further, so it’s all about creating something that feels extremely relevant and dynamic so they don’t feel like it’s a waste of time. The other important piece is that I call in experts in our community, so the information is actually worthwhile (and serves the dual purpose of helping me connect further with our community members.)

We have done four presentations so far and it has definitely been a learning process for me as well as the teens. We’ve averaged about 6-10 students per class, which is a huge success for our bunch of teens, and they seem very excited about future topics, especially cooking and career building (creating a resume, etc.) So far, we have done social branding (led by me, also a general intro to the program), public speaking, nutrition, and financial literacy. They are difficult to convince to attend (though providing food helps) but once they get in there, they all seem to feel like they’re really learning something and they really participate.

The biggest thing I’m going to try for future sessions is an email listserv. A lot of them tell me they forgot it was happening or they didn’t know, and many of them genuinely seem disappointed to have missed a program. So I will definitely be working on better ways to reach them.

Here’s a photo from our last session on public speaking! The teens were asked to make an impromptu sales pitch using an everyday item.

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Has your library done something like this?

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