When we think of life skills, mechanics isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind, despite it being essential. In 2018, there were about 227.5 million licensed drivers in the U.S.  Despite driving and often owning a vehicle, many people don’t have the basic know-how for their cars. They could easily find themselves stuck by the side of the road, at the mercy of passersby. Such scenarios are particularly scary for women.
One school in Sydney, Australia decided to teach girls basic mechanics as a vital life skill. The students in year 11 at Stella Maris College in Manly — an all-girls Catholic school — learned how to check tire pressure, monitor oil, and coolant levels, how to change a tire, and what to do in the case of an accident, among other mechanic skills.
The Initiative to Teach Girls Car Maintenance
‘Car educators’ Galmatic reached out to the school to see if there would be any interest. The team consists of four women who, according to their website, “specialize in helping Australian women and teenagers feel comfortable behind the wheel through our hands-on car maintenance workshops and online courses.”
Eleni Mitakos has run Galmatic for 13 years and she and her team do not teach only teenage girls.
“We teach up to 100,000 teenagers a year in schools, across all parts of Sydney,” she said to Daily Mail Australia.  “The primary aim is for teenagers to feel comfortable behind the wheel. Ultimately, they are driving very big vehicles which can be very expensive if not looked after properly.
“We can’t stress enough to all our students you should never ignore a problem with you car, you need to address it for your own safety.”
The assistant principal at Stella Maris College, Amy Smith, reported that all 11 girls, ages 16 to 17, valued the workshop. It was two hours long with hands-on learning with no special skills or prior knowledge required.
“We had three groups of roughly 40 girls in what we call an incursion (event on school grounds),” Smith said. “The feedback was very positive, the ladies from Galmatic were very patient and thorough in what they were explaining. All the teaching staff and our principal Elizabeth Carnegie felt a workshop like this would be beneficial for many reasons, mainly skills the girls need to learn before they leave school.”
“It was also important to show the girls that they have the capabilities to handle situations themselves once they are on the road, rather than rely on someone else.”
Online, Galmatic’s initiative won the favor of many. One commenter, Mel Evans, wrote, “I absolutely believe this should be taught at school. For those whose parents haven’t taught them, who can’t teach them, or who aren’t around to teach them. This among other life skills should be taught, e.g. cooking, sewing, taxes, etc.”
Many commenters added that they would like boys to learn these skills as well.
Vicky Jones wrote, “This is fantastic! Wish I could have joined in and learnt this skill! Well done Stella for teaching out girls how to be strong and independent.” 
Teaching Children Life Skills in Schools
The debate on teaching home economics and similar life skill courses has gone on for years. Many are in favor of it, including the Welsh Youth Parliament, an organization consisting of 60 young people aged 11–18. Their aim is to raise awareness of issues brought up by young people across the country and make positive changes. 
They have stated that “schools should teach more life skills to avoid producing “A* robots with no knowledge of the real world”. The life skills they propose include dealing with grief and arranging a mortgage.
“We currently leave school with a handful of skills but no knowledge on how to speak in public, clean, maintain healthy relationships, buy cars, apply for mortgages, road safety, and many other skills that are needed to succeed in life,” their report read.
Part of their research included questioning over 2,500 young people. It showed that about eight of 10 young people learned about bullying and internet safety. However, only one in 10 learned about managing grief or political education. Three-quarters of those questioned chose how to deal with stress and life-saving as skills that should be taught. Another vital untaught lesson included financial literacy.
Overall, the Welsh Youth Parliament report said that students lacked learning the topics they valued and needed. They petitioned schools and politicians to “listen more to young people when making decisions on their education”. 
If the feedback from the students at Stella Maris College is anything to go on, add car mechanics to the life skills list.
- ” Licensed drivers in the U.S.” I. Wagner. Statista. February 26, 2020
- ” Teenage girls at a Sydney school are shown how to change tyres… as part of new initiative.” Andrew Prentice. Daily Mail. October 26, 2020
- ” School praised for teaching teenage girls how to change tires and check oil coolant levels.” Michelle Hambiliki. Vt. October 26, 2020
- “About.” The Welsh Youth Parliament.
- ” Youth parliament: schools must teach more life skills.” Bethan Lewis. BBC. October 22, 2019