Post No.: 0027
Many people are particularly impressed with people who can speak multiple languages (unless someone speaks their native language as a second language that is!) or can play a classical musical instrument. Maybe it’s because most people kind of know what’s involved in learning a new language or playing an instrument, but with subjects or skills like fixing a car, plumbing, astrophysics, neuroscience, economics, software programming and so on – most people don’t fully know what’s involved in doing them (it’s opaque to them) or don’t fully appreciate these sorts of knowledge or skills and how useful they are (it’s like many laypeople seem to vastly underestimate what it takes to run a country or competitive sports club, for instance). So ironically, for laypeople not understanding what’s exactly involved in such subjects or skills, they might assume that they can’t be as hard as something that they know is hard such as learning another language or how to play a classical instrument. (But if they don’t know what’s involved, surely that makes such a subject or ability relatively more esoteric and difficult?!) Skills like mechanics, electronics, cooking to a high standard, crafts and physical sporting abilities, etc. are all useful and/or impressive skills too. Woof.
Now the point isn’t that being multi-lingual, playing a classical musical instrument or other art forms (such as painting or dancing) are bad or pointless – they’re all amazing and impressive abilities of course! It’s that all kinds of knowledge and skills are useful and impressive in their own contexts, and we should appreciate them all. They’re all overall equally as impressive and difficult to learn and master – it just depends how deeply into such subjects and skills individuals take them, and ultimately how proficient they become at them; along with the breadth and depth of the other knowledge and skills an individual possesses (no one knows or can do everything (well) though due to the limitation of only having 24 hours per day).
This human world overall seems to strangely value entertainment prowess over more practical contributions to society too – entertainers in many fields frequently get paid (far) more than e.g. nurses or farmers. Practical may be relatively boring but practical is what really keeps our world going around. Some skills are also seen as being more ‘cool’ than others but they shouldn’t be – for many people, maths is way harder but is considered less cool a skill than a lot of other skills but it’s definitely cool and undoubtedly impressive (I’m always in awe of people who are really fluent in pure and applied mathematics.)
Meanwhile, chess and classical music, for instance, are culturally considered ‘highbrow’, yet playing video games and (some) pop music can be just as challenging and technically sophisticated – and may even earn a highly skilled and/or captivating video games player or pop musician far more money as a career too!
So please don’t hold a narrow-minded conception regarding what a child should do or be good at to be considered ‘bright’ or to have good future prospects. This is more relevant in some countries than others but, for parents, don’t force children into extra-curricular interests that you narrowly think are ‘prestigious’ if they don’t find enthusiasm for them with less pushy motivations – there are many other worthy skills to learn. And who really knows what abilities will be valued in the marketplace 10 or 15 years down the line? For instance, playing video games used to be viewed by most parents as kids wasting their time not too long ago – now it’s currently a viable career choice for some, whether one plays competitively or not.
Yet this doesn’t mean every kid should now focus on playing video games! It’s like if every child were aiming for a career in programming (which is one driven agenda right now in many countries) then the odd child who chooses to e.g. sing would become more unique and valuable in the marketplace, and vice-versa. Perhaps epidemiology or geology will be very cool and attractive career paths one day? It’s extremely difficult to predict what the future marketplace will look like (even though it’s relatively easier to predict what it won’t likely look like) so maybe the approach is to not close off options and to do what your child finds intrinsic motivation in doing i.e. for your child to try as many different things as possible, whilst bearing in mind what your child would like to do too so that he/she’ll do it even without you constantly reminding him/her to do it. It’s not healthy or optimal to just play video games or do any single activity exclusively or too much too. And besides, there’s far more to life than just one’s career, unless you think humans are supposed to be born as cogs to fit into a machine and nothing much else?! I don’t personally think so. So anyone can e.g. program or sing purely for fun too.
Woof. If you are a young adolescent or you have children, please tell us via the Twitter comment button below what sort of world of work do you think will exist when you or your child will become an adult? It’s hard to predict so computers and robots might not take all of the jobs!