It is unfortunate that the new generation of teenagers and young adults seemed to lack the practical skills. Though I believe that it is unfair to solely put the blame on them. I am from this group of people, a young adult being trained and schooled in an education system that praises the ones who could calculate, the ones who could understand the complex maths, the ones who could follow and ace in their concrete tests.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not the one who is ranked last in class, nor am I the one who fails every single examination, always the one trailing behind the rest. I am a person who aced his examinations, did well enough to enter university (National University of Singapore this August) and enjoyed school. However, I came to realise we lacked something.
I believe that there is more to than just the maths and the sciences, and there is more to than just the arts that we are studying in school. There is a whole world of creativity and practical skills that our education systems around the world seemed to lack.
And some of us are taking a stand, questioning and petitioning for change. However, that can only go so far.
Instead of waiting and doing what we can for change, we need to take charge of our own learning, pick up the practical skills that we want to learn, skills that are investments: cooking, building, creating, to name a few.
We need to be conscious about what we are learning and not just go with the flow.
In Asian societies, we are always chasing the ‘paper’. Parents are obsessed with their children to get degrees and masters and even PhDs, believing that it will help them to find a good job and build a family in the future. They are not wrong because that is what society uses to differentiate the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’. However, we need to recognise that there is a whole other group of people who are talented and could be successful but are not because they do not own the ‘paper’, they are the creators, the artists, the writers and the street-smarts.
Those are the people with the practical skills that our societies sorely lacked and those are the people that needs to be encouraged and supported if we do not want our society to only be filled by ‘textbook-smart’ people.
So I say, learn the practical skills any way you can because, in a world where an increasing number of people are becoming only ‘textbook-smart’, the practical skills you have will be an asset.