So Children, Turn Your Haynes Manual to Page 23

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Through time you will soon learn that I am far from mechanically minded. I had to change the batter of my Ibiza a few weeks ago and let me tell you, it took some time. And a bit of profanity. Oh, and a few scratches on my hands. The truth is that it was the casing around the battery was the straw that broke the camel’s back. You need fingers like a pianist and the patience of a saint. Once I got the casing of the job was done within minutes.

Regardless of this minor triumph I will admit that I will be not troubling a Kwik Fit Fitter any time soon. I’d like to think (and hope) that I am not the only car enthusiast that just about knows one end from a spanner from another. I’d also like to think that these very people would not openly admit this. Purely because to be a true petrolhead you ought to know how a car actually works.

At this point you’ll probably thinking ‘yes that is all very well but where is this going?’ That is a good and valid question. Schools, pretty much everyone has been to one and it’s where we are meant to be educated to prepare us for the future. It has been documented many time that what they should be teaching are things that are useful in something called the ‘real world’. Things such as mortgages, tax returns and the nittty gritty topics which separate a moody teenager to a fully functioning adult.

For those who have not connected the dots or cannot see the connection. Let me throw this idea out there. Rather than learning how a plant uses light to grow which is of little use to the majority, how about introducing basic car maintenance into the curriculum? I understand that there are lots of boring governmental processes to get subjects added into the school curriculum and it’s all about getting the funding and the support to do so. I think it is safe to say that every family has at least one car and I think it’s safe to say that a lot of families don’t know their propershaft from their crankshaft. Let’s put it this way, a survey by Leasing Options revealed that 55% of drivers aged 18-25 could change a car tyre. This survey was done this year but these kind of stats have been banded around for quite some time.

Now, I am not saying this should be forced down every child’s throat as not everyone wants to wear poor fitting overalls and get their hands oily. But the option should be there, when I was in school I had no opportunity like this. I think this could be implemented in 2 ways. Firstly we get AA/RAC/Green Flag/any of the above mechanics to come into school as an extra curriculum activity. Students could stay on after school and find out how to check and change oil. The second option would be to make as part of GCSEs. You would think this would fit in with design and technology but it does not. It certainly didn’t when I studied design and technology. Not that it would have mattered anyway as our teacher Mr Allcock had no idea how to control our rowdy class. I think a scarecrow could have done a marginally better job. Anyway, back on topic. I have looked at the topics for the current D&T GCSE and there appears to be no mention of mechanics. Why not? I feel that is more relevant to the modern world than making a wooden jewellery box.

Personally I think the first option is probably more viable as the mechanic could do it as volunteer work and therefore wouldn’t need to be paid and they could bring their own tools and an old banger that needed work on. As a result, we get a new generation of mechanic savvy children who know what they need to do when something breaks on the new car (which it will). Also it means that there will be less demand for recovery companies which should improve response times for call outs. However this could mean less memberships so it would be a fine balance I suppose.

Before I go, let me leave you with this. The table below is taking from the same survey and shows what drivers can and cannot do. I don’t know about you but it raises eyebrows.

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