Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What I learned in pre-school

Could this be true? Clair Cain Miller reports that it may well be:
Preschool classrooms .... look a lot like the modern work world
This according to David Demming in a study for the National Bureau of Economic Research

What does he mean? In the paper's abstract, he says:
"Since 1980, ... employment and wage growth has been strongest in jobs that require high levels of both cognitive skill and social skill."

And, where do we learn these essential-to-job social skills? You got it! Pre-school is where it starts big time, unless you are from a family with siblings near your age. In that case, it starts even earlier, at least for the second child.

Demming goes on: "Children move from art projects to science experiments to the playground in small groups, and their most important skills are sharing and negotiating with others"

Ooops! does pre-school sound a bit like Agile?

Why do we need social skills? Isn't being a nerd enough to land a good job? Demming says: " .... social skills reduce coordination costs, allowing workers to specialize and trade more efficiently."

From David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ms Miller reports:
“If it’s just technical skill, there’s a reasonable chance it can be automated, and
if it’s just being empathetic or flexible, there’s an infinite supply of people, so a job won’t be well paid ... 
It’s the interaction of both that is virtuous

Automating nerds?
Well, this is, of course, all from academics. In the real world, non-socializing nerds and eccentrics are not a dime-a-dozen, and what they do is not algorithmic, and so they may not be virtuous but they're not likely to be automated out of a job.

Flip it around
On the other hand, if you didn't pass pre-school, can you still learn this stuff?

Yes, and so we see the emergence of the so-called flip classroom where the "facts" are conveyed as homework, and the class experience is all about socializing the knowledge. See Kahn Academy and others for this sort of thing.

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