Preparing Our Kids for an Unknown Future: Can We Do It?

The other day I bumped into Jane Fonda after not having seen her for many years. There she was in my Facebook feed, 70-something-years old and still looking rather good.

Jane and I are old friends though, of course, she’s not aware of this. She doesn’t know she spent many a sweaty hour with me, years ago, as I worked my leotard-clad body hard. I’d stretch and bounce and breathe fast, as I listened carefully to her aerobic instructions.

“Make it burn!” Jane would yell at me, at regular intervals. And I made sure I did. Afterwards, I’d press the ‘stop’ button on my cassette player before collapsing on the floor in an exhausted untidy burning heap.

I threw out my Jane Fonda aerobic workout cassettes a very long time ago. There seemed no point keeping them as I didn’t have anything to play them on. Technology had moved on and I’d replaced my cassette player with a CD player.

Jane Fonda also moved with the times. Her cassette workouts were replaced with video workouts. Sound and pictures! Oh my! It was no longer necessary to listen quite so carefully to her instructions. We could see what we were supposed to be doing. We could also see what we’d look like if we ‘made it burn’. At least, I assume women hoped they’d look like Jane. I never actually bought a Jane Fonda video. I’d discovered the gym by that time.

If I ever have the urge to revisit the past, I could buy a Jane Fonda workout, not on video, but on DVD because, of course, videos have gone the way of cassettes. And if I want to do a workout RIGHT NOW without buying a DVD, I could go to Youtube and follow along with a direct streaming video. (There’s loads of choice.) Yes, that’s another thing we didn’t have in the ‘old days’: the Internet.

Life has changed a lot since I was in my twenties. All this new technology. As an adult, I’ve had to learn a lot.

I’ve learnt how to use a mobile phone, a TV that has a remote control, a T-box, and DVD and CD players. I’ve learnt how to use a computer, send emails, navigate Google, sign up for accounts and make up passwords. I’ve become familiar with downloading software programs and working out how to use them: how to make and edit videos, record and edit soundtracks and make podcasts, edit photos. That reminds me: I’ve learnt to use a digital camera, even a DSLR one on manual mode. I’ve even learnt how to self-publish a book. I am sure these are only a few of the things I’ve learnt.

cassette-sketch-01 by Jeff Jacobson-Swartfager(CC BY-SA 2.0)

School didn’t prepare me at all for life as a 21st century woman. How could it have? No one knew what the future was going to be like. This makes me wonder what life will be like in another 5, 10, 20, 30 years’ time. What will it be like when Sophie and Gemma-Rose leave home? And what kind of work will they be doing? I’m sure, with the advances in technology, there will be many job opportunities we can’t, at this present time, imagine.

The big question is: How will I ensure my daughters know all they need to know for their independent adult lives? Maybe I can’t because I don’t know what their future needs will be. But that’s okay. I think sharing a love of learning with our children is far more important than making sure they know particular things.

As John Holt said:

Since we can’t know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned.

I guess my girls will continue learning what they need to know when they need to know it. They’ll keep up with the changing world, I’m sure.

Has anyone else ever done a Jane Fonda workout? And do you remember cassette tapes and how frustrating they were when they got all tangled up?  

cassette-sketch by Jeff Jacobson-Swartfager
(CC BY-SA 2.0)

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  1. Reply

    Blogger ate my comment! Sigh. Here I go again.
    It's just like one of those: Share if you get it-memes. What's the connexion between a pencil and a cassette? Yes, we grew up in the 70ties. I have a zillion cassettes, and I even found a cassette-USB-playing device, now I can listen to my old cassettes on my computer, but seldom do. Thanks for a walk down memory lane.
    At school those in charge inplement smartboards, laptops etc. This result in lots of lost time, trying to fix, synchronize, make work, untrangle … Time, that – in my humble opinion – was better spent with an old fashioned blackboard (It works. Everytime. If you remember the chalk) teaching the children to think and to keep on learning with an appetite.

    1. Reply


      Thanks for trying again with your comment!

      A cassette USB device? I hadn't heard of those. If only I still had my Jane Fonda cassettes I could buy one!

      I know just what you mean about blackboards. Yes, technology is wonderful… until it breaks down or the Internet disappears. Then it's very frustrating. Simple is sometimes the best.

      "teaching the children to think and to keep on learning with an appetite" Oh yes!

  2. Reply

    I grew up in the 1950s so have seen lots of changes over the years and have had a lot of learning curves as you can imagine. I remember trying to work out how to turn on a computer years ago 🙂 I also wonder what life will be like in the future for my grandchildren who are growing up Outback Queensland. They wouldn't have the educational advantages of children living in the city so hopefully they won't be disadvantaged.

    1. Reply

      Nanna Chel,

      Maybe your grandchildren will still have the same educational opportunities as children growing up in the cities because of the Internet. There's some wonderful things happening online. Several of my children have chosen to do their university studies online because it is more convenient and saves a lot of travel time. With the Internet, it doesn't seem to matter where we live anymore which is good because we don't want to live in the city!

      I know we are fellow visitors to Kelly's blog. I always enjoy reading your comments there, and now you have left one here for me! Thank you!

  3. Reply

    Sue, I can't see an email address on your blog. Would you mind emailing me via the contact form in my blog as there is something I would like to mention to you privately. Thanks heaps.

    1. Reply


      It was good to share with you. Thank you for emailing me!

  4. Reply

    Thirty years ago I kept hearing the term "lifelong learning" but for the life of me I couldn't grasp it. Now if people back then just said "the love of learning" I would've got it right away. LOL

    1. Reply


      Oh yes! A love of learning will ensure we continue to learn all our lives. Doesn't the word 'love' make it all sound very attractive?

    2. Reply

      Most definitely. 🙂

  5. Reply

    I do remember those Jane Fonda tapes! How funny! I think I may have felt the burn by burning the tapes…

    I also absolutely agree: the ability and desire to learn are the keys. In fact, I would add one more: discernment. In the age of information overload, knowing what to learn, how to evaluate sources and information, and how to not be overwhelmed by distractions are all essential (and things which I see on your blog all the time). I think those flow from the more spiritual sense of discernment, and being grounded in faith.

    1. Reply


      You are so funny! Burning your tapes! Yes, I felt like doing that many times in the middle of a workout.

      Oh yes, the ability to discern is important, I agree, and I think it will be even more essential in the future as technology develops even further. Thank you so much for adding this thought!

    2. Reply


      Thank you so much for the update on Grace. We've been praying every day for her. This morning I shared your news with my girls and they smiled. Such happy news! Whatever happens in the future, Grace's parents will treasure this time with their daughter. We'll keep praying!

    3. Reply

      I wanted to pass along the update on Baby Grace: she made it through 3 surgeries and has been allowed to come home. She is still on hospice, so I don't know what her prognosis is, but she is home, and they are just holding her all the time, enjoying what time they have. Her parents are so grateful for the time with her! The doctors seem to think it is very miraculous that she has made it this far, and I'm sure they are right. Thank you so much for your prayers, and please keep praying!

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