When Parents Lead, Children Succeed

B2W Radio - Early Learning From a Computer vs. Early Learning From Real Life

B2W Radio - Early Learning From a Computer vs. Early Learning From Real Life

Hosted By:
Elane V. Scott
Featured Guest:
Ken Collins

Dear Stakeholder Leaders,

My guest on this program is former Birth2Work team collaborator and entrepreneur Ken Collins. In my estimation, Ken is about as close to a renaissance employee as they come – an insightful, critical thinker, eager to take on new challenges, and work hard to the completion of a project.

What I know to be true, however, is that the skill set I most value in him, even with the title of Web Coordinator, is the soft skills he wields so well; something we’ve talked a lot about on this program. As it happens, his ability to engage in a thoughtful conversation is workforce relevant if you have tried to interview some potential new hires recently. HR folks are more and more baffled by the demands and requirements of young people around Ken’s age who are clear about what they want, but often unable to hold a conversation comfortably about what they can deliver. Many potential hires are left on the sidelines because in today’s service environment, customer service demands above average communication skills!

Ken certainly didn’t develop either his current computer skills or his ability to question and communicate well by chance. He spent some time as a kid working on the computer doing basic learning-through-gaming in school (i.e., Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?) and word processing, but it was his real-life experiences that figured significantly into his ability to think associatively and creatively. He came to realize that his real world activities demanded reasoning and constant application of new and innovative ways of doing things, plus an ability to lead and persuade others. The computer, for his age group, was a tool, not an alternate life.

I call Ken’s age group a crossover sector of the workforce. These are people around the ages 26 to 34 who grew up without working on the computer daily, but on the side, and in tandem with age-appropriate outdoor activities that taught relational skills. He is of the first real generation of web entrepreneurs who didn’t start working on the computer full-time until he was in his twenties. And while computer interfaces continue to get easier and easier to use with each new tech generation, for some reason we are culturally reinforcing the notion that to learn the skills necessary for the workforce we must start toddlers and on the computer. It’s crazy! Young people need real life experiences in order to create a personal set of values through which they can discern truth and consequences of action. By introducing a computer to someone at such a young age, we don’t teach life skills, we teach them to take destruction and harming others for granted. Young people struggle to think through their actions or critically analyze information because they have no real life experiences to draw from or juxtapose. Remember what one of the young men who participated in the Columbine High School shootings said when the police finished talking with him after the killings, “Can I go home now?”

Did you hear or read anything about the 16 year old German girl who recently won World Champion honors for playing a famous video game competition? One commentator remarked, she had no emotions. She became part of the machine. Sound like the kind of kids we’re looking for in the future?

There is a certain demand for technology sophistication, yes, but kids are struggling more and more to solve raw problems that don’t have a prescribed solution anymore. And yet being a problem solver these days IS in fact more difficult than it ever was. Today, nearly every decision requires choices between hundreds of complex options which result of varying consequences. You have to be so much more aware and knowledgeable about real life.

Birth2Works’s six-step process integrates and aligns leaders around the understanding that it’s the real life we live, not the one made up on the computer, that will have the greatest impact on the potential of children, families, and businesses to help us all be economically sound going forward.

Elane V. Scott

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