By Jennifer Outcelt, Creative Content Architect
Covid gets a lot of the blame for everything we don’t like about our current society. While no one could claim Covid as beneficial without first being berated for such a callous insinuation, perhaps Covid does deserve a few props for exposing some existing societal gaps that might have otherwise snuck under the radar. I’m talking about the dwindling emphasis on soft skills in the classroom.
This week my father sent me a link to the article, COVID has revealed the soft skills gap among America’s youth: It’s time we address it. The context of this article within his email was regarding his pride for how I turned out as a working adult and how he believed my mastery of these endangered soft skills were directly correlated with my successes. After reading the article I immediately felt a terrible sadness for the upcoming generations. My dad was right; honing soft skills were a huge part of my schooling and extracurricular actives. Without that emphasis I’m not sure I would have carried myself as far as I have.
Please don’t read my above statement as synonymous with the stereotypical sentiment of the elderly that, (to be read in a wilting aged voice) “this generation of young whippersnappers is inferior compared to my generation!” Indeed, I do not hold this belief. Each new generation builds forward from the hard work and sacrifices of the previous one and deserves to create a world that belongs to them. As our societies evolve, so do our perceptions of what is important. Many of these changes can be justified, yet some can be detrimental. We may not realize which is which until it’s too late.
Sometimes technology renders previously important skills obsolete for the majority of people. For example, darning socks. What used to be a necessary skill for the upkeep of a scarce commodity, is now relatively unnecessary based on convenient and cheap access to new socks.
What technology will not take away is the need for leadership, interpersonal communication, empathy, time management, and creative thinking skills. Unfortunately, these are not formally taught skills in the public school curriculum. These skills are fostered in extracurricular activities like sports, debate, theatre, JROTC, Odyssey of the Mind, scouts, and any other program that brings together a group of youths to accomplish common goals. The pandemic (and let’s face it, a bit of laziness on societies part as a whole) has taken away these extracurricular activities and rendered millions of children deficient in these soft, yet invaluable, skills.
Check out this article to read more about why this has happened and what toll it could take on our future.