What A Young Man Should Know

Lifelong Love of Learning
Lifelong Love of Learning

“What should a young male of 21 know, and what should he be able to do?

There are no conclusive answers to those questions, but they are certainly worth asking.

A young man should know how this country is run and how it got that way.

He should know the Federalist Papers and de Tocqueville, and he should know recent world history. If he does not know what has been tried in the past, he cannot very well avoid those pitfalls as they come up in the future.

A young man should be computer literate and, moreover, should know Hemingway from James Joyce. He should know how to drive a car well–such as is not covered in Driver’s Ed.

He should know how to fly a light airplane. He should know how to shoot well. He should know elementary geography, both worldwide and local. He should have a cursory knowledge of both zoology and botany. He should know the fundamentals of agriculture and corporate economy.

He should be well qualified in armed combat, boxing, wrestling and judo, or its equivalent.

He should know how to manage a motorcycle.

He should be comfortable in at least one foreign language, more if appropriate to his background. He should be familiar with remedial medicine.

These things should be accomplished before a son leaves his father’s household.”   — Col. Jeff Cooper

By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.


  1. Amen! I wish more parents would consider what their children should really know/experience during their very short prep-time with them (the initial years) and take action. The school system/society will only do the bare minimum (or less, in my opinion). Kudos that you are really raising your son based on what’s REALLY important (even more than your quoted list) and not deferring that responsibility to the government.

    I guess this goes for educating OURSELVES beyond whatever shortfalls we lost during our childhood. No excuse. As adults, we can choose to engage in any activity that fills the gaps between what we know/who we are and where we want to be.

    Good post, Jeff. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I would add: iron a shirt, sew on a button, change a tire, cook, admit when he’s wrong, swim, respectfully disagree, know that it takes more strength to show restraint than it does to show aggression.

  3. To teach is to learn twice.

    To teach for a long time has been transformational.

    Thanks for your comments Mark. be great today! It’s up to you, brother.

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