Friday, December 24, 2004

Things to learn by the time you're out of high school

Making speeches and selling? Wow...are those the most important social skills a kid should develop between third-grade and college?

Stereotypically, women care a lot about relationship skills, while stereotypically, men hope someone else will silently do what's needed. Well, I hate to feed into that stereotype, but really! Way too many important parts of human existence are missing from Seth Godin's "Top Twenty" list--and even from the somewhat more wide-ranging discussion on Joi Ito's blog.

Even worse, I pictured ambitious, anxious parents creating similar checklists, then ripping the GameBoy out of Junior's hands and asking to "talk." "Junior, my ambition for you is a high credit limit on your platinum credit card plus occasional mentions of your name in Wired--so here's our program."

Typing and algebra are good things to learn, but what's missing from this picture? Kids need a sense that people like themselves, starting out in childhood, can progress to an adult life someone could aspire to. They get this sense from knowing lots of stories -- stories about people who did remarkable things -- stories about people who were saved from disaster by a friend they'd helped earlier -- stories about people who didn't give up when the going got tough.

I invite other sisters to comment, but here's my quick take on a few major skills far more important than typing:
How to:
ask for what you want and give thanks when you get it
encourage and give support to team/family members
pitch in on a job
argue without calling anybody stupid or evil
motivate others to change their behavior without hitting or insulting them
find things to enjoy in daily living

Taking my own advice here, I'm headed outdoors.

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