If your little darlings (or you) have dreams of medical school, you may think you purely need to focus on math and science. But, Roger Kneebone, professor of surgical education at Imperial College, London, says that you also need to know how to cut and sew.

Kneebone (side note: how could he be anything other than a doctor with that name?) told the BBC, that the issue has become urgent. Naturally, a surgeon needs to cut and sew. Do you really want someone's first stitch to be on a patient and not a piece of cloth?

"It is a concern of mine and my scientific colleagues that whereas in the past you could make the assumption that students would leave school able to do certain practical things - cutting things out, making things - that is no longer the case," says Prof Kneebone.

I've been concerned for a long time that the push towards "college for everyone" was doing bad things to the skilled trades, but hadn't considered until I read the BBC article, that getting rid of the "fun" part of school was also hurting the learned professions.

Of course, many jobs in medicine require good manual dexterity--it's not just a surgeon that needs to sew, it's a nurse that needs to start an IV, or a pediatrician that needs to intubate a preemie. 

What kids can do is swipe things on their smartphones. And as numerous humorous YouTube videos can attest, that's a skill that is mastered while still in diapers. 

I realize that my own children fall short in these areas (not that either of them is planning for medical school, but you never know) because they don't do the things that were pretty standard when I was a child. My mom taught me to sew. I wanted to teach my children to sew, but stopped when I realized the cost of cloth and patterns was far greater than the cost to buy new clothes. They can, though, hem a pair of pants, so that's better than nothing.

I also took 10 years of piano lessons, which my children have avoided by complaining sufficiently that they didn't want to do it, plus the incredibly high cost of lessons where we live. Therefore, they don't have the skills that I took for granted.

When we turn preschool into kindergarten and kindergarten into first grade, we make a choice about which skills we want children to have. And while reading is great and necessary, it turns out that using scissors and coloring in the lines can also be skills they'll need later in life.

Published on: Nov 1, 2018