Home > Uncategorized > Three Skills Students Need to Master in a Future Where the Workplace is Dominated by Robots: Coding? Essay Writing, and How to Recreate.

Three Skills Students Need to Master in a Future Where the Workplace is Dominated by Robots: Coding? Essay Writing, and How to Recreate.

March 18, 2021

Jim Hightower’s thought provoking Common Dreams post ominously titled “Robots are Coming for Millions of Jobs” brought a question to mind. If robots are going to be taking over every iterative white color task and schools and colleges  are expected to prepare their graduates for “the Workforce of the Future”, what kinds of skills should these education institutions be teaching? My answer is in addition to the traditional curriculum in place today, the one that students “cover” in order to prepare for the standardized tests used to assess their performance, students should learn how to code, how to write an essay writing, and how to recreate.

As robot technology emerged over the past decade, many policy makers recommended that every student should learn “how to code”. This recommendation was based on the premise that the higher-paying jobs of the future would require this skill of everyone. While I don’t think that the economy will ever require as many coders as it will require school teachers, delivery persons, or health care providers, I do believe there is another moreimgportant reason to learn this skill. By learning about codes and algorithms students gain an appreciation for the limits of robotics and the power of their own minds. That, in turn, will help them appreciate the importance of creativity and open-mindedness, skills that humans possess but robots lack. Moreover, it will help them gain a self-awareness that will open more doors for them than the skill of writing code.

A second life skill that all students will need in the future is one that I believe they need to posses now: the ability to write the standard “five-paragraph essay” where you open with an introduction that advances three ideas followed by three paragraphs that elaborate on those ideas, and a concluding summary paragraph. This recommendation is counterintuitive given that robots are now writing text for platforms like Facebook and even sports stories and reports on town governments for local newspapers. But as one who writes on a near daily basis, I find that the five-paragraph format forces me to crystallize my thinking and continuously improve my vocabulary so they I can choose the words that most precisely capture the thoughts I want to share. This is not easy and it often feels like I am never completely able to achieve my purpose of exposing my thinking. It does, however, add to my self-awareness and to an awareness of others when I am writing a persuasive essay because it compels me to craft my writing so that my ideas will resonate with those who do not share my world view.

A third life skill that is grossly underemphasized is the ability to recreate… that is the ability to amuse oneself in a healthy way. There is an assumption in our recreation culture now that emphasizes achievement, advancement and victory without regard for the need to be fit and have peace of mind. Absent the emphasis on lifelong fitness in physical education and the emphasis on creativity in the current metrics children and students at all grade levels see activity as good in and of itself. Yet most of life is spent sleeping, resting, and reflecting. Those skills should be taught and emphasized in schools.

My fifth and final paragraph, then, will underscore the common thread that runs through the middle paragraphs: self-awareness and reflection are far more important than getting the highest grades as compared to ones peers or getting victory at the expense of others. Those lessons are appreciated late in life need to be taught and appreciated early.

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