Thursday, 23 April 2009

Nine qualities essential for successful adaptaptation into the workplace

Most teens will tell you high school is pointless. Some are simply going through the motions to get to university. Some are simply complying with the law. Even those who like to learn and get good grades see the futility of the things they study. Very little will actually prepare them for university, life, or the workplace.

Most university students will tell you university is pointless. They will learn almost nothing that directly helps them in a career in their field. Nearly everyone will tell you they learn more in a few weeks on the job than four years in a classroom.

The following list was compiled and posted at a Harvard campus. It was included in a brochure containing advice for students planning a career in the new international economy - the state our world is becoming. It would seem to me, then, that these would be fairly important skills to be taught and learned by university students preparing for their careers. And since these types of skills are ones that need to be fostered and deep-rooted, it would seem to me you would need to start in high school. Or middle school. Actually, since most study habits and modes of thinking are already established by middle school, it seems to me they should be taught from the very first days of elementary school. Hmmm.

1. The ability to ask hard questions of data, whether from textbooks, authorities, or other "expert" sources.
2. The ability to define problems independently, to avoid slavish dependence on official definitions.
3. The ability to scan masses of irrelevant information and to quickly extract from the sludge whatever is useful.
4. The ability to conceptualize.
5. The ability to reorganize information into new patterns which enable a different perspective than the customary.
6. The possession of a mind fluent in moving among different modes of thought: deductive, inductive, heuristic, intuitive, et al.
7. Facility in collaboration with a partner, or in teams.
8. Skill in the discussion of issues, problems or techniques.
9. Skill in rhetoric. Convincing others your course is correct.

Is it any wonder why kids graduate from high school only to flounder at home for another 10 years before deciding they should maybe try and "make it" in the world on their own? Is it any wonder why we graduate from university and feel completely ill-equipped to actually get a job in our discipline? Of the above 9 essential (and although not compiled by myself, I would agree with the list) qualities, how many were taught with any sense of urgency during our schooling?

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