Learning Lost Skills - Advice for College-Bound Teens | Winward Academy


Learning Lost Skills: Advice for College-Bound Teens

Learning can come from books. And then there’s the Internet, and phone apps, and podcasts, and this, and that, and the other thing. But – here’s the rub — all those genuinely wonderful ways to increase one’s knowledge are pretty much second nature to today’s teenagers. To learn in a new way teens may want to try embracing a few vanishing values and skills.

That’s what learning is, of course. Slowly mastering topics you didn’t understand and engaging parts of the brain that may have atrophied.  So should teenagers go out and learn to make wheelbarrows like the pioneers? Or become blacksmiths? Or learn to weave their own powdered wigs, a la George Washington?

Well, maybe. If you’re into those things, sure, what the heck. But a person need not go back hundreds of years to learn lost arts from the past. Take good penmanship, for example. When was the last time you wrote by hand for more than 30 seconds? Doing it well takes concentration and practice and patience – all important skills to for college-bound teens to hone.  Plus, research indicates writing in cursive is still an important skill to possess, despite the rumors of its imminent demise.

And what of storytelling? Anyone who has ever written an essay has told a story. The key is to do it well. A good way to practice the art of storytelling is by talking with friends and family. Students: consider how you start the story, what details you choose to include, whether or not you offer any facts during the telling. Those same skills can be used when writing an essay on a standardized test or a class final.

And there are other skills falling out favor but are still important for college-bound students to possess.  When emailing (or writing an old fashioned letter), salutations are always appreciated. Writing to a professor or prospective employer? Before starting your message with an overly casual “Hey,” think to yourself: how would my grandmother address this correspondence?

And speaking of grandparents, consider all the knowledge they have to impart. Everything from their personal histories to their tastes in music to their thoughts on the world events they witnessed. Odds are they’re eager to share what they know. Technology is a wonderful thing, no doubt, and it can absolutely help prepare teens for college. But sometimes the best teacher is somebody who’s already been there.

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Mike Krumboltz

Mike Krumboltz is a journalist who also writes fiction. He holds an MFA in creative writing and lives in Oakland with his wife and daughters.