Should We Be Focused on Teaching Students To Do S#!t Computers Already Do Better?

I hear all the time about bringing more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education to our schools. I watch (with horror) as some politicians and others try to shift the focus on Universities away from teaching “liberal arts” and towards “job training.”

Education that is reduced to job-prep skill training will fail us. Any “job” that can be reduced to a series of logical, sequential decisions will be replaced by technology — and very soon.

Humans make bad computers. We’re not great at repetitive tasks and deductive thinking. We require lots of maintenance and training (and retraining). We want to get paid more as we get more experience. We talk back. We make mistakes. We take breaks and vacations.

So, instead of training the next generation of workers for jobs that likely won’t exist (as they do today), perhaps we should turn our focus to developing capabilities that are uniquely human and will probably always create value.

1. Critical Thinking

How to ask better questions, how to dig deeper, how to connect dots, how to find patterns, how to deal with ambiguity, how to structure exploration.

2. Creativity

How to create, explore, communicate and implement ideas

3. Interpersonal skills

How to relate to other people, how to build and maintain relationships, how to empathize, how to persuade, how to deal with conflict

I’m not arguing that we stop teaching math or science. Not at all. Instead, I’m suggesting that we also teach students how to think better, how to create and how to work with other people. Those skills are timeless and always in demand.