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EDITORIAL: Time to teach interpersonal skills

Let’s, for a moment, forget Common Core and look at an educational shortcoming that is causing problems right now for our graduates and their employers.

According to a recent Siena survey, area business leaders — nearly 68 percent who responded to the survey — are concerned about finding qualified workers who have good communication skills and can work as a team.

So while schools are busy trying to teach students how to write and meet new standards in that area, they aren’t necessarily doing enough to teach students how to work together to solve problems.

Learning to work with others is a vital skill in any industry. Whether you work in a nanotech lab, an office, a coffee shop or an at-home business, you have to be able to interact with others to get your work done. Even one-on-one interaction can be challenging if you don’t have the proper interpersonal skills.

The trouble is, many schools and universities don’t make interpersonal skills part of their curriculum. The way they see it, students have to figure out how to interact with one another on their own, and the whole “plays well with others” thing should have been straightened out in the sandbox long ago.

This thinking might have been OK 15-20 years ago, but it’s not effective in today’s world. Young people have grown up communicating in entirely different ways than the generations before them, with texting, Facebook, Twitter and even newer platforms like Snapchat being the primary means to stay in touch.

This type of communication may seem effective to this generation, but, at the risk of sounding like a bunch of fist-shaking old-timers, it does nothing to help them with the face-to-face interaction needed to do business in the real world. It’s easy to say what you want to say when you type it on a screen, but saying it when the other person is standing in front of you can lead to consequences you’re not prepared for.

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Comments

gothoney 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Nice theory but...our schools are having trouble teaching the three-R's, what makes you think schools are capable of teaching interpersonal schools? Will it be practical? Smart kids learn what is needed despite their families anyway. The average nuts still don't fall far from the tree. Motivated students will teach themselves. Offer it as an elective. Have members of the community come in as guest teachers and for those interested, at no cost, let the students hear from those doing the hiring. Teachers are not in touch with the real market place or we would have had relevant studies turning out relevant students now. You can not push on a rope. Teach to those that get it, the rest will catch on if they are interested.

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