Life Skills

As the world progresses the necessary ‘life skills’ needed in each era seem to change. The simple ones like being able to drive a car or horse, being able to read or use social media and understanding the difference between a cursor and and screen pointer! But even those get very old, very quickly.

Take, for example, the analog clock: the clock face with 12-hour divisions came from the ancient Egyptians with the the duodecimal system based on finger joints or lunar cycles. The skill based on being able to interpret the clock face is diminishing, and no-one needs it except those taught many decades ago. “Teach children to spell” yell the older generation while fumbling around on a keyboard and ignoring social media. “Make the remote control easier” grumble the same folks, while most younger people use their mobile phones to control their home lights, order meals, go shopping or find the next public transport. Skills change far more rapidly than a codified education system can keep up.

Take typing. If the only time you extensively have to use a pen is during an exam, surely you are training people for … the wrong things? Post university most people type things versus using a pen at almost a 10:1 ratio, yet we take many years to teach writing first. Teach them to drive a car just when autonomous cars appear and you’ve done the same thing as encouraging weaving just before the Industrial Revolution, or spelling just as spell checkers arrive.

We need to urgently identify those skills that are universal such as relationship management, ability to learn, adapting to change and fundamental things like self-learning and being curious. To paraphrase Pink Floyd, “we don’t need no prescriptive education”.

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