What skills do humans need?

How do you know you’re doing the best for your kids? First make a list… For more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children follow this blog or get my book Homemade Kids, out of the library. This post is from www.nicolabaird.com

Truisms through the shop window.

Truisms through the shop window.

If only we knew what skills our children need. It’s easy to give them what we wanted to learn as children, but to get it right for each future generation is crazily hard. And my generation – the ones who had left university before computers were mainstream – have seen how needs change firsthand.

My daughters’ school is in the process of rethinking its ethos – like most schools we want to support young people in their learning. But goodness it’s hard to crack what future skills they need, especially with Michael Gove’s more old-fashioned focus on examined courses.

In the Evening Standard on 7 February 2014 Nick Curtis produced a fascinating list  of the 10 skills that will help children for the future. They included basic knowledge of economics (ie, banking and debt); understanding cost-benefit ratios (I don’t get this one at all but i think it might be opting for well made over tat); map reading skills; how to change a car’s electric battery and maintain a bike; understanding of the way bodies get stiff and worse; how to speak Mandarin; how to speak in other languages without being able to speak that language; sex education that isn’t too fluffy; how to play a portable musical instrument and how to say no.  It’s a great list.  A lot better than the do-gooder lists you can buy in gift shops (see pic.).

It inspired me to do an audit on my girls – here are some skills I think they need, and are slowly developing.

How to look good with a moustache is essential - but what else does a teenager need to know?

How to look good with a moustache is essential – but what else does a teenager need to know?

11 things teenagers need to know

  1. Planning tools (eg, SWOT grids) to help make decisions
  2. Ability to delegate
  3. Understanding probability (re, if it will rain, will the tube flood, health risks)
  4. Ability to research
  5. Social skills so you can get on with people rather than get their backs up
  6. Ability to market yourself (for interviews etc)
  7. New media skills (and how to use it safely and why not to be a troll)
  8. Grit and determination
  9. Know when to celebrate (big treats and mini pats on the back)
  10. Willingness to work hard – and evidence that you can
  11. Awareness of the need to learn
Battling for the seat at the winning table. Or just a game of chess.

Battling for the seat at the winning table. Or just a game of chess.

Younger children might benefit from these 15 skills

  1. How to use basic tools in the tool box, kitchen drawer etc
  2. The names of things (ie, in the tool box)
  3. How to cook
  4. How to sew
  5. How to grow food
  6. Confidence reading and being able to choose your own books
  7. How to ask questions (and listen)
  8. How to play an instrument (or whistle or sing)
  9. How to read maps
  10. How to unwind and relax
  11. How to be kind
  12. First aid knowledge
  13. How to look after an animal
  14. How to file, and keep papers in an organised way
  15. How to save money and use it.

Of course I can’t do all the things on the list… the challenge is to find ways to hand them to the next generation as a gift rather than a chore.

Over to you
Any ideas how I can build global awareness and a sense of life as fun into the skills I wish to share with my daughters – and help teenage school students learn?

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