Last night I attended the Geek Girls dinner in Cambridge’s Betahouse (a shared workspace for entrepreneurs.) I’m probably not geeky enough to be a full-fledged member of Geek Girls but I love and appreciate my sisters in tech enough where they kindly overlook my own lack of tech credentials.
We had a great conversation started by Karrie Peterson from Brandeis. Karrie asked what skills colleges should be teaching so kids are prepared for the future. For a technology-oriented group we were surprisingly focused on soft skills — writing, effective communication, people management skills, common sense. I think it was probably because we all know enough about technology to know that the tools change all the time and skills tied to specific tools (or languages) don’t last forever. It is good for now but sooner or later, the technology evolves and you need to evolve with it.
One of my contributions was asking them to somehow teach curiosity. We all need to be prepared for lifelong learning and being a curious person helps. If it is possible to impart a joy of learning, a fascination with new things, you will have someone who will always be looking forward — not simply relying on what they learned a million years ago in school.
My own college training is long ago obsolete. I have a degree in TV/Radio broadcasting with dual concentrations in Advertising/PR and audio engineering. I come from the era when we actually edited physical tape. Only recently my husband discovered my editing block and razors, and threw them out. Darn, with everything gone digital, they are now probably worth something as museum pieces. (Or, maybe not.) My school, and life, and my parents instilled in me a life-long love of discovery. So, I’ve moved on with the market and wasn’t left behind. (I do tend to find that many people are somewhat surprised to find me focused so much on social media because I am not a digital native but that’s another post.)
What do you think? What should colleges be teaching?