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Skills Kids Should Learn (dailygood.org)
83 points by spreadlove 1303 days ago | 31 comments

I thought that was a good article. Indeed, I think some areas like tolerance should go much further. The idea of celebrating differences, especially those which are shocking of fear-inducing is essential but most people (of any political ideology btw) completely lack this.

I teach my children to be willing to sit down and each roasted guinea pigs in Ecuador, sea cucumbers in Indonesia, to understand and be tolerant of different belief systems, and to explore and try to find value in understanding different people.

All too often cultures collide and the result is political activism to correct the "misguided ways" of the strange and alien others. It's something which must be deeply resisted.


Well, one skill I thing is quite essential to anyone anywhere at anytime is socialization, something you won't learn easily being homeschooled.

Kids need to be out and see lots of different people and characters before their adulthood, otherwise they're gonna have an schewed view of others.

Why not try to teach them all this different skills and values while they go through traditional venues of growing up instead of alienating them from the rest of the world around them?


I used to think that (and was not homeschooled myself), but as far as I can tell, the research doesn't actually show much difference in socialization between otherwise comparably situated homeschooled and non-homeschooled kids. There seem to be some aggregate differences mostly because of the different distributions of religiosity: a lot of homeschooled kids are homeschooled for religious reasons. But if you compare middle-class-secular homeschooled kids to middle-class-secular public-school-goers, they seem broadly similar.


You can learn how to interact in society while still being homeschooled. Might be a different experience but homeschooling does not necessarily equate to being alone all the time.


Good article. I feared "programming" would be one of the items, but I'm glad it wasn't.


Well I don't know, words like "solving problems", "acquiring new skills", and "training" sound inadequate to talk about children education.


Perhaps. But on the other hand, when I see children sitting in nice orderly rows quietly to watch some adult scratching chalk against a blackboard -- I really can't help it. It's like there's a knot in my heart and an odd feeling of, "what a waste."

I don't have children, but I have seen my nephew and niece grow up. I can at some level appreciate that our hard-working lifestyles demand that we pool our babysitter service in this way -- and that while we're pooling those reserves we might as well have some noble motives like teaching them the patterns that are important in life -- reading, calculating, political rights they do and don't have. I am also at some level afraid of them inheriting some artificial culture of unquestioning authoritarian worship: sit in place, do not question, obey, obey, or else you're in trouble. That's a crucial but underestimated part of the problem of whininess: it's not just that your parents give you everything you ask for which makes you whiny, but it's the fact that you've lived atop this social order, and have been taught that it's proper to be bossy at the top: that that's the way you get what you want when you're an adult in front of a class of children.

When I see these rank-and-file kids and part of my subconscious inadvertently blurts out, "what a shame," I don't know what's better. One great thing I've heard from people who have been to third world countries is, "it was so beautiful, I saw kids assemble a ball out of grasses, and just play." Acquiring new skills, solving problems -- these are just sophisticated abstractions atop "you have to learn how to play." Give them a wood shop, make sure they know how to control the machines so that they don't injure themselves, then give them a goal and problem they've never solved before. Something like that.

Surely there has to be some hybrid here, if we want every child to be able to do mental arithmetic and speak a second language and so forth. But surely there is also something heroic missing from the public schools as they now stand.


I feared if "programming" was mentioned, "Python" was going to be in the same sentence.


I'd like to add: self-control. This is a skill that everyone needs to improve, regardless of how much you already have.


These are also skills most adults should learn as well.


I can see why people get all fuzzy and romantic about their children and their children's future, but these people are just going to end up crippling their children for lack of realistic ideas about real skills to learn.

Let's set aside questioning the notion of whether or not there even can be one universal set of skills that guarantee success merely through some conformance to a Platonic Ideal of Humanity for a second, and begin to construct a somewhat harsher, but more realistic, list.

1) Shutting up and getting to work--Yes, your mommy thinks you are special, and you think your kids are special, but nobody else does. Whether you're in service of a crappy manager inside some sucky megacorporation or trying to pry cash out of fickle customers, the only thing your gatekeepers care about is what you can do. So, do it. Turn off Facebook. Turn your phone off. Write your damned code or design your damned bridge and deliver it. Or push your resume around. Just turn off the distractions and make yourself go.

2) Conform--Again, Snowflake, you're one among a million lower-case-s snowflakes. Get over it. Go along to get along. If your so stuck on yourself that you can't dress down like a slobby developer when working with slobby devs, or put on banking attire if you code at a bank, then you're going to make people uncomfortable and make things worse for yourself. Go ahead, feel smugly superior about it as you do it, but do it. I'm sure they are all mindless automatons, but you can do it out of a conscious choice. Just remember, they can kill you, but they can't eat you. Snowflake.

3) Perform while depressed or discouraged--You're not a hothouse flower. You are an employee. Or an entrepreneur. You're a name to you and your friends, but your a number to somebody who's between you and a promotion. Or your next paycheck. You're not always going to be happy, and you're still going to have to meet your obligations, still going to have to provide value to someone or make progress to a goal that provides value to someone. Take a pill or drink a beer or cry on a shoulder, but don't stop performing until you can afford it.

4) Recognize bullshit--And recognize that it's everywhere. That's not a moral judgment. It's just the way it is. It's easy to spot in the obvious places, like advertisements, but not so easy in others, like when someone is blogging about the wonderful things they're going to instill in their children that the Bad Old Education System just won't for some reason. Everyone wants to blow smoke up your ass. Especially your parents. Especially parents who want to view themselves as enlightened friend-peer-guides to their crotch spawn. You're special, but not more special than Daddy's ego. Not really.

5) Watch out--Look out for number one. I don't mean to not play on a team. Just recognize that it's play, that it's a thing you do for certain reasons. Everyone else on the team is in the same situation, whether they realize it or not. Are your skills a threat to someone else on the team? Watch them. Be careful around them. Be a little paranoid while maintaining some perspective. It is not at all uncommon for someone of either gender to trump up a harassment claim to neutralize a rival. (Among many other stupid and counterproductive things.) Don't be paranoid, but be aware and smart.

That's a start. You get those things down, and "Problem solving", "Compassion", and "Tackling projects" will seem like the stress-free child's play that they are.

Good luck out there. You're gonna need it.


In regards to 3: I can tell you want to succeed. And I can tell you've never had depression, confidence 95%. Maybe you live in some kind of posh suburbia, where pseudo-"depression" is cool, whatever, and thought that depression and demotivation could be somehow comparable.

Let me welcome you to clinical depression. You can't concentrate for five minutes, and I mean it. Your productivity will be 0.01x the normal. Your error rate will be 100x. Half of your day is a struggle for not jumping out of the fucking window, right there, right now. The other half, you will spend crying in the bathroom, pushing through the pain. (And then some smug bastard tells you "what pain? suck it up", and you fall into suicidal ideation again.)

If I were your boss and discovered you were clinically depressed, I would pay you to go home and not work until you got well. Damn, I would pay your therapy, even. Simply put, depressed workers are bad for business.

Of course I am pissed off. Don't tell me that I should have worked my ass off when I was on SSRIs, and anything less is being a loser. Don't trivialize it. Shit, I can't fucking believe I made it through. And I wasn't even that majorly depressed.


I totally disagree, but I think you highlighted some wonderfully bullshit excuses for why it doesn't matter that our schools are failing to train kids in Reading, Writing, Rhetoric, and Arithmetic - skills which will never go out of fashion.

I can't stand either side in this debate over what attitudes students should be taught. One camp says "students need to learn how to be creative, independent, caring, and improve their self-esteem". The other camp says "harden the fuck up, and get ready for the real world". Neither side can justify 12 years of school. In either case, kids can be conditioned in about 3 months (the time it takes to go through army boot camp). 3 months afterwards, they'll have adjusted to whatever environment they found themselves in after graduating.


My brother-in-law mentioned his OK primary-secondary schools didn't prepare him for college. "Oh, how long did it take you to catch up?" I asked. "About a year!" he exclaimed.

Hm. So a primary-secondary education can be recapitulated in 1 year when you're 18 years old. Then why the heck do we make such a big deal out of it? Why torment the kids with all that artificial stress?

I suggest - take control of your child's education. Make your family projects More important that busy-work homework. Take the heat for them from the teachers, and spend your emotional capitol teaching your kids some self-reliance, common sense and kindness.

Got three Eagle Scouts this way: Sgt Al, CMU grad-school graduate Joseph (1st job: working at a Mt View startup), and young Andrew auditioning at Julliard. A shed full of home-made trebuchets, chain and plate mail; a yard full of vines and trees; a watch tower 2 stories tall with gun slits and camo netting. They did all that. The schools had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Anyway a little off-topic but sure I agree, 'boot camp' at 18 will do more to prepare your well-rounded kid than 18 years of stressing over grades.


I don't think it can be recapitulated unless you already have a good foundation. But a good foundation doesn't require stress or grades or tonnes of homework.


6) Wake up when your life is half over, and realize all that bucking-up and Machiavellian conforming has sucked the soul out of your life and left you an empty shell of a human.

Does anyone remember when Monster.com had that super-bowl commercial? -- When I grow up, I want to climb my way into middle management!


A bit of a rant, especially the bit about feeling smugly superior while not conforming.

I would rather instil a sense of wonder and kindness into my child than a sense of "look at this shit world, don't even think of trying to improve things within your bubble of influence... instead conform, and play the game like everyone else, then you'll grow up and be a real happy ranter like mkn here."


I beg to differ.I would want to teach my kids to never conform,to never just shut up and go to work,to work not because you are someone's bitch but because you can change the world.

Yes I have to admit that if I had grown up with these values myself I would be perhaps be not getting myself into trouble so much .But hey...at least my life is fun :)

But I agree with you on the other things...always recognize bullshit and always watch out for the assholes!


Conforming should not be seen as a value in itself, for sure, but it can be a useful thing till you can get yourself the heck out of that place.

Sometimes it's neccessary to reach a bigger goal.

And sometimes it's just easier to conform in some small areas you don't care about. Some people can't deal with the level of 'weirdness' they see in others - conform in some areas and get better relationships to them (and don't say you don't want relationships to those, sometimes one can't choose).


Wow. This is such heinous and poisonous advice I actually considered flagging this post.

Learning how to focus and building a high quality work ethic is important, but your advice is horrid. Following it is likely to lead a person to becoming a burnt out husk of a human being by the time they are 40, if not sooner.


Actually, it turns out that it's neither heinous nor poisonous. You seem to be having an allergic reaction to the contrast between advice about how the actual world functions and how actual productive people function in it, and the flowery advice given in the article.

Basically, each of the 5 points I listed comes down to, "Momma said there'd be days like this, days like this Momma said!"

I guess, at this point, I'd be curious about what, in particular you found "heinous", "poisonous", "horrid", or likely to lead to one becoming a "burnt out husk of a human being" before the remarkably specific age of 40. However, I suspect that you'll find you've imported a bit of your own baggage into your explication.


I found your post to be a bit unproductive (despite legitimate content) because it was so deeply ridden with spite and disdain; too much focus on name-calling! Without the smug superiority complex and palpable hatred for a certain group of people you clearly consider beneath you, it would've been a bit easier to engage with.

Even a bit of humility about whether your personal vantage point and opinions are accurate pictures of the entire "real world" would help...


Keep reaching for the stars!


So, your advice to kids is:

1. Sit down and shut up!

2. Be a conformist.

3. Keep your head down.

4. Listen to strangers, not parents.

5. Every one is out to get you.

Wow, how original!!!


If you don't think you can improve things, why bother?


Or you know don't worl in a megacorp. The place I work at if anybody would want to complain to HR they would find that the person they wanted to complain about was on a first name basis (because we all are) and so they would have to present actual evidence.

On the other hand you should never dress down and always dress a little better than the people you work with.

That said never interview for a dev position in a suit. I like wearing one, but there is a near perfect corellation between people expecting to wear a suit and stupidity.


> Or you know don't worl in a megacorp.

Or university.


I enjoyed how on every paragraph you switched between the genders of the subject. Nice touch.


Yeah, that caught my attention more than the actual article (which was a great one)!


The most important thing you can do for your children is to prepare them to leave.


I think the title should be changed to: Skills 'Everyone' should learn.

Of course if you are taught this as a child then everyone will know in the future but many generations at this moment in time still do not accept all these points..


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