In the last blog I talked about skills and said I would look at some of the ways we could better serve our young people. But before I do, I just have to recount another of these wonderful research studies that hit the papers this week.
According to the headlines, the research proved that self settling of young babies was more effective in getting them to sleep. The study had three groups; those that were put to bed and not picked up again; those that had their bedtime delayed by fifteen minutes each time until a tome when they fell asleep was reached; and the group that got picked up.
On the face of it this was quite a well designed study until you look behind the headlines. Firstly, the total number of participants was 43, giving only 14 children in each group. Secondly, the children were aged 6 - 18 months, But the most fascinating thing was that the conclusions of the study were based on children falling asleep 10 minutes earlier than those that got picked up!
Now forgive me for being cynical but 10 minutes is hardly the major breakthrough that the article implied and most parents don't putting a child down to that level of accuracy.
What seemed to have been totally missed was the skill that was taught to the first group. Although they did not pick their babies up, they did stroke the child along the nape of the neck while in the cot. So, in other words, they were not just left to cry as was implied by the headline, but the parents were taught a new skill.
In today's world we seem to want a formula for everything, whether it be the ideal education route, the right jobs to go into, the sort of partner you should have or the way you should bring up your children.
Unfortunately people are constantly disappointed because all of us are unique and hence there isn't a blueprint for success. Wouldn't it be better if we spent more time on skills and less on rules and qualifications?
We should be ensuring that our young people develop social skills, self reliance and self confidence. We should encourage them to make their own decisions and allow them to learn from failure as well as from success.
We should stop measuring suitability for jobs by what qualifications people have and start measuring their skill set relevant to the role.We should stop choosing partners on looks and social status and start choosing them on compatibility. Only this week the idea that opposites attract was totally debunked! Why can't we teach young mothers skills like stroking the back of the neck rather than telling them to let all babies cry!
There are clearly many more skills that can be passed on, and an assessment technique that I operate uses 75 such skills. And there are real benefits to a skill based approach.
Not surprisingly, everyone turns out to have some skills and hence they feel less of a failure and motivated to use such skills. By assessing skills, suddenly possible opportunities are created that were not thought of when only qualifications were considered.
But the real winner of this approach is the future. We all know that the world is changing very fast and that jobs come and go with increasing rapidity. The great thing about skills is that they are transferrable. If we want to make sure that our young people are ready to face the future then we need to give them the SKILLS to do so.