Many experts in child rearing and teaching recommend that parents read to their children while they are in the womb. While they can’t truly hear or understand what is being said, studies have shown that it can help with language development. No one would argue against the potential for benefit.
After a child is born, toys, books, videos, television programmes and even their cribs are designed to teach them language, literacy and even basic numeracy. Their building block toys are literally laying the foundation for their development.
Once a child hits school, they are taught to read and write, do arithmetic and understand patterns. Some of these areas of learning follow them all the way to university, where communciation becomes courses in letter writing, or email etiquette.
The school system is designed to prepare us for life as adults, and to help us to function in the world. But this education is incomplete, and many adults aren’t really prepared for life and adult relationships.
School teaches letter writing, but it doesn’t teach effective communication styles. We are taught how to speak publicly, but not how to sort through our emotions and communicate our feelings. We are taught how to solve complex mathematical equations, but not how to balance a budget. We are taught what our sex organs are, but we aren’t told that the biggest sex organ is our brain, and we learn very little of the mind that resides within it.
Too many of us learn to fill in the gaps later in life, when we stumble across some bit of information that is useful, only to learn that entire books have been written on the topic decades before, but never made it into our school curriculums because it’s not considered important.
Perhaps this flaw is because the school system was never designed to teach life lessons - its purpose was to create fodder for the industrial system, people with basic skills to fill jobs. The world is a lot more complex now, and now we spend more time at school that ever before. Yet the school system hasn’t evolved along with the rest of the world. They pay lip service to 'soft skills', yet fail to realise that being able to understand your emotional makeup is the first step in being a well-adjusted human being. If you’re the greatest business mind ever, it’s unlikely that you’ll make billions if you can’t keep yourself from an emotional breakdown.
Being able to understand your emotional makeup is the first step in being a well-adjusted human being
The following books cover topics that I never learned in school. When I read them, I had many ‘ah-ha’ moments and experiences that I can only characterise as epiphanies. Some of them explore topics that may be antithetical to your belief system, but they can still be instructive as one doesn’t have to agree with something to understand it.
So without further ado, here are the books and articles that I wish were read to me in the womb, and that I also wish were required reading in school:
- Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus - John Gray
- Bad Boyfriends: Using Attachment Theory to Avoid Mr. (or Ms.) Wrong and Make You a Better Partner - Jeb Kinnison
- The Ethical Slut - Janet Hardy
- The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
- Irrationality: The Enemy Within - Stuart Sutherland
Also worth mentioning:
- Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner - Jeb Kinnison
- More Than Two - Eve Rickert
- Depression Fallout - Anne Sheffield
P.S.: This list grows from time to time. I may update this post in the future, or write a new list.