Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Teach the Children

At home, all the year-end activities are building up. We are trying to organize a college tour for my older boy, a high school junior, and I'm trying to help my younger one, who is in a high school research program at Central, get his work together for next year.

When I was talking to these organizer folks about cleaning desks, I noticed that some of them specialize in organizing teenagers. (Do they have any tricks for picking up dirty socks?) Tara Grunde-McLaughlin, one of the Inquirer's readers, thinks that all of us should be taught, as youngsters, to be organized.

Here's what Tara wrote to me:

I want to share my thoughts on the origins of our troubles, whether at home or work. Once, we were all new to our jobs (although we may have inherited file drawers full from previous tenants). Once, at home, we only had a few folders of "important documents."

Eighteen years into adult independent life, I wish I had had a system of organization from the very beginning! It seems we are all trying to close the barn door after the fact, so to speak - or at least lead the horse back in.

This leads me to wonder what, if anything, is being done to guide future businessmen and women. How about a weekend class or two for college students? Are any local universities or trade schools providing anything of the sort? It seems that organization is such an important life and job skill, yet it is expected this knowledge would be just absorbed along the way.

Can we help our youth prevent future chaos?


Blogger Ray Sarnacki said...

Poor organization skills are just part of the issue facing young adults today. There is a growing issue in the workplace, evidenced by the “helicopter parent” phenomenon that has become so prevalent today. I’ve heard stories not only in the press, but also first hand from career center and coop program directors, about parents doing everything for their young adult children, from going on job interviews to negotiating salaries. Many people have described this phenomenon, but no one seems to be stepping up to address its implications for our society. The result: Nearly 50 percent of newly hired employees fail within 18 months. Only 11% of these are due to poor technical skills. The rest are due to poor interpersonal skills (see citation below for source).

Instead of doing everything for our students, why not teach them how to deal with these issues? If we don’t let them try and fail – how will they learn to cope with failure on their own? If we don’t let them make their own choices, how will they learn to make their own decisions? It seems to me that as a society, we are failing in our responsibility to help young people develop into leaders in their own right. Robert Greenleaf, author of The Servant as Leader, wrote that the test of leadership is:

“…do those served grow as persons; do they … become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servant (leaders)?”

Let’s take on that challenge and teach our kid’s how to become critical thinkers, how to deal with people, and solve problems. Help them develop the planning, communication skills that will give them the ability to work effectively in teams and become productive members of organizations and society. That should be the legacy of our generation to prepare our children and grandchildren for the future they face.

Cited in: Poor Interpersonal Skills Doom Many New Hires; Expansion Management; Nov2005, Vol. 20 Issue 11, p2-2, 1/2p.

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ironically, I was just thinking along these same lines the other night when I was at a high school PTA meeting on Internet Safety. This is the 2nd or 3rd time that I've brought my reasonably tech savvy self to hear what the professionals have to say we should be doing as parents. My first thought was:"Why isn't this part of the middle school curriculum taught TO the children" Wouldn't they benefit by having various technological issues being taught to them FIRST hand by the experts rather than us overprotective and overreactive parents threatening to turn on parental controls if they don't learn how to use the internet properly. This lesson, coupled with how to use e-mail constructively for homework, school and volunteer projects- saving documents "as you go along" and proper data mining of the internet would behoove our children. These skills are best acquired at a younger age, before high school. My 8th grade daughter starts each year by opening a new folder for that school year and a file for each subject. She learned this in a technology class when she was in 5th grade. My senior in high school has files saved on an "as you go basis"- she was never taught these skills at school although I have certainly attempted to reinforce "organizing computer files" as well as her room. We as parents are responsible to pass on the lessons learned in life, but schools have a responsibility to teach current tools that will ensure successful futures.

9:18 PM  

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