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Posts Tagged ‘important

This is my longer form response to a tweet I was included in.

I do not buy in to people labelling skills that you do not teach directly as “soft”. To that extent, I agree that they are as essential as any other teachable skill.

But not all such skills are learnable. Take conflict management, for instance. They are as much part of a person’s character as they are a skill. Folks who are more patient, empathetic, and resolute are better at it. This is why not all people are managers or good ones at that.

I also do not think that such skills and traits are more important than before. Who are we to say that these were not important 10, 100, or 1000 years ago?

Schooling then and now, apprenticeships, mentoring, and all other human interactions provide opportunity to hone such skills. It is easy to ask why schools are not doing more because they seem to focus on content. But they also teach these other skills even if they are not as measurable or possibly not as emphasised.

Employers should not expect young hires to have all the skills they need. Part of growing up and work is learning on the job. Employers can complain all they want about “young people these days”, but they need to ask why they decided to hire them in the first place. They also play a critical and authentic role in nurturing such skills.

I say we look at learners and novices as LEGO sets or IKEA products. They have promise and potential, but somebody has to take this instruction seriously — some assembly required.

The title I wrote above is ambiguous. Am I referring to social titles or headlines?

This tweet — the title of an article — is ambiguous and misleading.

The article claimed that Singapore is the best country for children to grow up in.

The Twitter comments and responses were what you might expect. People did not read the article and focused on taking the idea down based on what they already believed.

Reading the article, you find out that Singapore held the top spot with Slovenia, so the title is inaccurate. It was not the only “best”.

More importantly, what constituted “best” was largely due to medical and nutritional advancements, and modern socio-cultural norms. None of the eight indicators (see screenshot) was about schooling, freedom, play, etc. The latter are also factors that you might consider as positives for children to grow up in.

The title of the article was misleading because it was designed to conceal instead of reveal. It was designed to titillate the reader. It was clickbait. But if critical readers clicked-through, they would see the article for what it actually was.

How many people actually clicked through to find out?

The clickbait did not work. Sure, it might have got some people to read the article — if they could get past the paywall — but it did not inform or change the minds of those who did not and could not get past the title.

So titles are important just like tweets are important. They should succinctly and accurately represent what you want to say. If you do not, you perpetuate lazy writing among your writers or editors, and breed cynicism instead of skepticism among your readers.

This opinion piece, Not a good idea to start school later, is not about the good of the students. Instead, it is about their parents, the employers of the parents, the transport companies.

Now these other stakeholders also have a say. The problem is that their say is dominant and overwhelms what is important. That is why there is no change. The question of why we do not start school later is perennial and so are the standard answers.

The problem is not just that we keep revisiting this issue and not change anything. It is that we normalise the cycle, and in doing so, lose sight of what is important (the learner) and instead dwell on what is urgent (everything else).

What is important is seldom urgent. And what is urgent is seldom important. -- Dwight D. Eisenhower.

What is important is seldom urgent. And what is urgent is seldom important. -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Why do we tend to focus on what is urgent instead of what is important?

Sometimes we have to, like if there is a need for urgent care. However, in mainstream work it is easy to focus on busy, urgent work because what was important was not the focus in the first place.

It is in no way urgent for me to attribute the image I used. It is important that I do. Here is the CC-licensed image.

Dwight D. Eisenhower by CGP Grey, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  CGP Grey

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