Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

What Should Young People Be Learning

Originally posted on July 23, 2010

In the June 7, 2010 issue of the New Yorker on page 21 there is an article about whether college is really cost effective. My attention was caught by the statement that skills appropriate to the workplace include the ability to “resolve conflict and negotiate,” “cooperate with others,” and “listen actively.”  What strikes me here is that others are also noting the need for skills of what I call “psychological literacy,” a growing awareness that an increase in the skill levels involved in self-awareness, communications, and interpersonal problem solving is sorely needed for cultural progress. I daresay that this article hinted that such skills may be closer to the core of what’s needed than the content of many academic programs. I agree, and want to see this kind of thing taught in secondary school. (Also, I think these kinds of skills are best learned through doing, experiential education, using, for example, types of role playing!)

As an aside, a component of that hope is that a more user-friendly language be utilized as an aid, and I offer as a candidate the idea of using “role” as the basis for teaching about practical interpersonal psychology. It involves a relatively simple unit—analogous to the idea of using notes in music— that can nevertheless be amplified and made as complex as necessary for the task at hand.
I have several papers on role theory on my website, and hope to continue to develop this idea. Your input is welcome.


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