The Three Most Important Survival Skills According to Grandpa

Gaye LevyGaye Levy | Jun 30, 2019
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Recently I asked some of the book festival authors the following question:  Given your background, knowledge and experience, what do you feel are the three most important survival or prepping skills?

It has been interesting to read the answers and I am always surprised that the responses are so different from each other.  That just goes to show you that we all live our lives within a different context.  We have different family situations, live in various geographical areas, have varying degrees of health and wellness, and span a wide range within the economic strata.

Three Most Important Survival Skills According to Grandpa - Backdoor Survival

One of the more interesting responses came from Ron Brown, author of the Non Electric Lighting Series of books and eBooks. He submitted his response and then, after the fact, he submitted an alternate version.  By that time it was too late to include the alternate in the article.  Instead, I share with you today, the three most important survival skills according to Grandpa.

What skills did Grandpa need to survive?

We all want to “live a long time” but we don’t want to “get old.”  Funny thing, language. “Survival” is the same as “living.” If we don’t survive, we die. If we don’t live, we die. Same thing, no?

When the SHTF, modern technology (cell phones, microwave ovens) will disappear and our lifestyle will return to an 1800’s lifestyle, to Grandpa’s era.  What skills did Grandpa need to survive? Not just survive and hang onto life by a whisker, but survive and prosper?

The answer is simple. There are three skills that Grandpa took pains to learn: reading, writing, and arithmetic.

This is not a cute or silly answer. This is the real answer. You wanna survive in Grandpa’s era?  Learn Grandpa’s skills.

1. Reading

You will need the ability to read directions. “Turn the adjusting screw clockwise.” Today, my neighbor’s kid doesn’t know how to read an analog wall clock. She doesn’t know what “clockwise” means.

2. Writing

You will need to keep a diary. “A short pencil is worth a long memory.” What was the date you started the tomato seeds last year? And what were the results? And the year before that? And what was the variety name? And how much did you pay?

Cursive writing is three times faster than printing. It’s much more efficient than printing. My neighbor’s kid cannot do cursive writing. Nor can she read it. Nor can my doctor’s receptionist read cursive writing. She’s edjumacated. She’d have a hard time in the 1800’s.

3. Arithmetic

You can always hire somebody with a strong back for stoop labor. Always. You can today. You could in the 1800’s. But finding somebody who can “do” numbers. Without a calculator?  Different story.

The three skills that Grandpa valued – reading, writing, and arithmetic – are the same three skills that you, like Grandpa, would need to live in Grandpa’s era. Everything else you can figure out as you go along.  If you have those three skills.  Next question?

The Final Word

Perhaps because of my age and because I am not around young people much, it did not occur to me that the three Rs (the three “Rs”—reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic) were becoming lost in the digital age.  If what Ron is saying is true, however, then indeed, these are definitely skills that need to be promoted as survival skills.

In these days of computers, smartphones, eBook readers,tablets and Xboxes, it is easy to become seduced by technology. We all need to do our part to ensure that these three vital skills are not lost.

You can read Ron’s complete interview in the article Ron Brown and The Non Electric Lighting Series.



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16 Responses to “The Three Most Important Survival Skills According to Grandpa”

  1. Only thing I could add to Grandpa is the ability to think through a problem.Today too many want the answers handed to them.Problem solving is a lost art and those word problems in school become what we call life.

  2. Wow! Thank you, Gaye! I cannot tell you how much it tickles me that someone is actually listening to me (in this case you). Yippee! Hurrah! (Etcetera.) You made my day!

  3. Definitely have to agree with ‘grandpa’. Without the basic 3 R’s lots of things would be totally impossible to accomplish. Now, if we could only convince the educational system of their importance.

  4. In this day of Smart Phones and super technology, it absolutely amazes me how “dumb” many under the age of 40 are. Technology won’t feed you or keep you warm if the lights go out. I ran into a lawyer’s secretary that couldn’t even sign her own name – she just made a squiggle line! To me, that’s the same thing as making an X for your signature as people did 150 years ago.

  5. I totally agree , today’s children( and their parents weren’t) are NOT being taught how to read, write and do arithmetic. The schools have gotten away from the basics. Too many “designer” courses used as filler so the shcools can look like they are up to date and parents that are too busy to be involved, other than driving the kids here and there can pretend the kids are getting a “good” education. I remember when my oldest was in school, how astounded the 2nd grade teacher was because he could read 2-3 grade levels above the grade he was in and could discuss current events intelligently. Seriously she was surprised that our son(s) read the newspaper, listened to the news and we discussed the days happenings around the dinner table. NO matter how busy we got as a family. That’s just the way my hubby and I grew up. YES BOTH my sons are are successful in their careers. My oldest told us that because we “nudged” 😉 him and his brother it helped him as a parent as well. His children (10 and 8) are in the top of their classes and they LIKE school.

  6. public school….all I’m sayin!

  7. Couldn’t agree more!

  8. If they can’t read cursive, they can’t read the Constitution, Bill of Rights or the Amendments. I think that is their plan and TPTB are winning on that note.

  9. not learn cursive? imagine having to print everything! i get writer’s cramp just thinking about it. and we couldn’t read even everyday documents. bizarre. i became a serious reader at age 8, when someone gave me 3 nancy drew books for christmas. by age 10 i tested at the college freshman level in reading. that had nothing to do with school; it had to do with reading lots and lots of books, and looking up the new words in the dictionary. i learned to read (and write) by reading lots of books that were written in correct english. once a child masters basic english, she can teach herself anything she needs to know if she has access to books.

  10. With all due respect to Grandpa, I couldn’t disagree more. As the next to oldest of 10 children, I can tell you any child a few months ahead of another child can teach those 3 R’s. There are 3 survival skills which are better taught by adults even when they given over control of teaching their children to the local school district.
    School rooms by virtue of the size of the classrooms aren’t even doing what was intended, what they are doing is attempting to mold children into people who are too busy trying to please and fit in so they can’t notice or may not want to take the time to develop my top 3 survival skills. Parents have forgotten they can be the most influential, AND the first teachers to their children. So even if the schools are doing what they do, parents can teach these skills to even the youngest, age appropriately of course. My guess is almost everyone who reads and posts here has and is developing these even now, no matter what their age.
    The first one a child can learn; don’t always color within the lines all the time. At times, learn to think and do outside the box. Look at the possibilities and the “what might be’s”, it is instinctual; yet it gets suppressed in schools in the attempt to be part of the crowd. History has shown it’s those who can see beyond the box who are the ones who not only survive but change, invent and further the advancement of human beings for the good of humanity.
    The second one; critical thinking. To be able to see alternative options for what is and/or is accepted can often get us into trouble. YET, the US was founded on that independent spirit which said there is more to life than….and what is happening is just unacceptable. As part of this comes taking responsibility for your decisions/actions, accepting the consequences, good, bad or whatever, and being accountable for those decisions.
    The third one…harder to teach and most definitely hard to learn…respecting someone else’s ideas/opinions/beliefs especially when they don’t agree with yours. The US was founded by people who disagreed on many things (read the minutes which were kept of their meetings)but they had respect for what each wanted. Although it must have been very difficult, somehow they found ways to compromise. This was one I learned growing up in that family of 10 children, I’m still learned and relearning.
    Without these, those 3 Rs could just teach people to read, write and do math, but w/o my 3, we are followers to the latest charismatic leader.
    OK stepping off my soapbox/educator platform. 🙂 lol

    • You can teach “skills” . . . the 3 R’s, for example. (We may not be doing it but it is possible.) Being right-brained, however, is an attribute or characteristic, not a skill. How do you “teach” someone to think outside the box? Beat it into them? Today we spend our education budget trying to teach people to color outside the lines [sic] while abdicating the original charter. My neighbor’s kid knows all about cell phones and Grand Theft Auto, nothing about grammar or square root. Is that a good thing? It’s what our system has produced.

    • I’m sorry. It appears you haven’t had any inspiring teachers in your life. Someone to show how you can reach beyond yourself, from what is to what can be.
      As a teacher, I use ‘right or left brained’ as an assessment tool, not an excuse. I have never had to ‘beat’ a student (whether child or adult) into learning. Nor am I talking about abdicating anything. As to teaching what I call skills. I have been doing it for more than 30 years. Now I teach it to children and Millennials. The latter, so they can teach it to their children. So many will need it for what’s coming. To explain the how? I’m a poster here, as you are. I don’t have time to to do the blogging, I’m doing the teaching and also advising parents so they can teach THEIR children.
      I would suggest, if you don’t like what’s being taught in your local school(s)—what are you doing to change it? As has been said often in many of Gaye’s articles, surviving is about community. One person may survive for a time but humans are social creatures. We need people who contribute to the community, even a little is better than none.

    • Did you see my original interview with Gaye? It might surprise you. She has a link to it (above). I note you are from a family of ten. You seem to feel that gives you bragging rights. FYI, I raised a his-hers-and-ours family of eleven kids. Got custody of all of them. We home-schooled one. I even delivered a couple of them at home myself (birthing, I’m talking about). Today they are all are employed. That’s an accomplishment, no? 100% is somewhat better than the national average. And every one of them can read an analog wall clock and do cursive handwriting and do square root long method. We have our share of Ph.D.’s and successful entrepreneurs (at least they make more money than I ever had). So, although your rhetoric is great fun and your preaching is delightful, I’m going to leave off this conversation. For I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep.

      Who said that?

    • As I said in my original response, I disagree with you. Then I stated my experience. I have no need to brag, I just share. You and the other readers can take what I say and disagree or agree. That is all.

  11. grandpa 3 r are so correct but the other are right up there my grand son can do calculist all the big mathews but when he has to the problems he cannot do them the old fashion way and makes no sense to him when he has to the new teacher way’s when the old way gets him to the same answer I’ve done all those new problems but dam if I can do them the way the teacher wanted them done. I think the teachers were taught that way with the new laws that required them to teach that way but they come to work the first things i made them leave home cell phone, computers calcualtor have the knowledge to do the job and their tablets they did it my way and i had to let a lot of teachers go because they didn’t have the knowledge to do it the old way we rasing educated idots

  12. This article is TRUTH. I’d add to this being able to be diplomatic and bargain with people, both for trade and to avoid a fight. If you can get along with others and have the basic educational skills to manage, you’ll be better off. Survival is in your brain, not your gear.


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