Tuesday, August 25, 2015

some endangered skills?

A little while back, Jen X67  referred to a British Ordnance (they were the people who mapped the UK, back in the day) survey about skills that were being lost:

20 Skills Facing Extinction

According to the survey, younger generations have a lack of interest in things like reading maps, tying knots and remembering phone numbers. They don’t know how to knit, use a compass, darn a sock or write in cursive. Here are the following 20 skills face extinction.
1. Reading a map
2. Using a compass
3. Tie a specific knot
4. Darn socks
5. Looking something up in a book using an index rather than ‘Googling it’
6. Correct letter-writing technique
7. Understanding pounds and ounces
8. Knowing your spelling and grammar
9. Converting pounds and ounces to grams and kilograms
10. Starting a fire from nothing
11. Handwriting
12. Understanding feet and inches
13. Knitting
14. Remembering a friend or relative’s phone number
15. Remembering a partner’s phone number
16. Identifying trees, insects, flowers
17. Touch typing
18. Baking bread from scratch
19. Taking up trousers
20. Wiring a plug

Okay. So here are my thoughts:

1. Yes, I can do this. Learned as a child. My dad used to hand the map off to me and have me "navigate" because then I could see how much farther it was and I wouldn't ask him. I also learned how to read topographic maps and soils maps from assisting him with research. I still use paper maps to figure out routes; I don't own a GPS.

2. I can do this, haven't used it recently. My dad had a big Brunton compass (can be set to magnetic declination) that I borrowed for some of my fieldwork.

3. I can tie a few knots but I don't know them all. I think I could learn some of the unknown ones pretty quickly if I took up a skill (like sailing) that required them.

4. Yes, I can do this. I can also reknit parts of socks if needed.

5. This was the first 6 or so years of grad school for me, so yes. I have also edited an index for a book my advisor wrote.

6. Haven't written a letter in years but I remember some of the differences between a formal letter, a business letter, and a "friend" letter.

7. Yes, though I use metric more commonly in the lab. I sometimes use ounces in cooking.

8. Yes, not 100% perfect and there are a few words I need to look up, but at least I TRY.

9. I always have to look this up. I'm better at converting lengths, because of knitting.

10. How much from "nothing"? I could manage with wood, kindling, tinder, and a match, or possibly tinder, a magnifying glass, and a sunny day, but I doubt I could make one of those bow-drills and have it work. Or at any rate I've never tried. Points for knowing about bow-drills, though?

11. Yes, but mine is lousy. I mostly print.

12. Yes, though again: I use metric more commonly in research.

13. That's why I started this blog, first of all: to show off my knitting. I also know how to crochet and how to sew - both by hand and on the machine.

14. "The number I know best" as Archie Goodwin used to say, though in this case it's my parents' number.

15. I'm sure I could if I had a partner. (I presume they mean romantic partner, not business partner, but the concept is the same). I also remember the phone number of the office at church, several offices on campus, and a couple people I call regularly.

16. This is a big part of my gig and something I take considerable pride in being able to do. It's one thing I'm extremely good at, and I don't lightly claim to be good at things.

17. Yup, developed this skill in graduate school. (Before, I was a hunt-and-peck typist, I didn't type THAT much)

18. Yes, I can do this. My bread is still not as good as my mom's, though - it tends to be dryer and coarser, maybe I add too much flour?

19. I can do this but I admit if I'm up at my parents and I buy new pants and my mom offers to do it for me, I let her. I think if I had a choice I'd take them to a tailor because taking up trousers is a little tedious.

20. Like replacing the plug on a lamp? I think I could do that with a good guidebook. Rewiring a wall-plug, I admit I would call someone for that.

I would also add: I can change a tire. I can replace the wax seal on a toilet and also fix the "guts" in a standard toilet. I know how to get calcium deposits out of a clogged shower head. I can trim branches off of trees and I know the proper technique for tree-trimming. I can do minor carpentry if I have access to the proper tools. I know how to throw a pot on a potters wheel though it's probably been 30 years since I did. I can make soup stock from scratch, in fact, most of my cooking is largely 'from scratch.' I know how to test to see if a raw egg is still good or has gone off without breaking the shell.

I could probably butcher an animal provided I had a sharp enough knife and an anatomy textbook to remind me. I could probably suture a wound if I had the right tools and a patient who wasn't screaming too loudly or throwing up on me. In theory I can change the oil on my car even though I have never bothered to do it myself.

They also apparently listed "10 essential skills for modern life"

Top 10 skills considered essential in modern day life

The survey also reveals the top 10 skills considered essential in modern day life.
1. Searching the Internet
2. Using/ connecting to WiFi
3. Using a smart phone
4. Online banking
5. Knowing about privacy setting online
6. Searching and applying for jobs inline
7. Being able to turn water off at the mains
8. Using and following a sat-nav
9. Updating and installing computer programs
10. Working a tablet

1. Yes, and actually I'm pretty good at it. Also pretty good at discerning "fact or crap?"

2. Yeah, if I have printed instructions noting any of the weird quirks of the system. My home 'puter is set to automatically find my wifi and log on. I don't do a lot of work away from home that requires wifi.

3. Nope. I could learn.

4. Nope, not really interested in doing that at this point.

5. Yeah, more or less. I don't FB so I can avoid some of the more egregiously bad "privacy."

6. I sort of did this to get this gig. Would rather not have to do it ever again. (I have submitted manuscripts through an online process so I count that.)

7. Yes, and I have the right tool for that now. Also it has an attachment to turn off the gas from the gas meter, which would arguably be more urgent in a real emergency.

8. I could figure it out but really am not interested in having one at this point.

9. Yes, have done this multiple times.

10. I could learn. Surely it's not much different from the newer laptops.

Incidentally, if we suffer an EMP or that solar-flare event that fries all the the technology, you're welcome to come and camp in my yard. I might even make bread or knit socks for you if you are good at telling stories or if you are willing to help defend my "homestead" against  the zombie hordes.

I don't know what those differences mean: I can do nearly all of the "vanishing" skills, and only maybe half of the "new" ones. That's a little scary, but then again, I could probably LEARN many of the new skills if I really needed them - I am slowly adapting to the truly stupid and illogical online interface that "Connect" uses - I have to use the site to make homeworks for my classes.

I'm also thinking now of Heinlein's famous list of things a man should be able to do, which includes conn a ship (I don't think I could, not without training) or diaper a baby (I never have, but I bet I could figure it out fast). I can pitch manure and take and give orders, and if I had enough time and a reminder of the scansion, I could probably write a sonnet.

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