We expect people to know how to communicate brilliantly. In fact, we take this skill so for granted that we don’t bother to teach so called “soft skills” at school, at university or even in most work-placed training environments.
If you have been on a training course that I have run, you will likely have heard me lament this fact.
A new attitude
So, it was a great relief to hear the UK’s new Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, recently speak about the importance of educating Britain’s youth in soft skills and resilience.
Having a background in acting training gives me some pretty specific perspectives on this.
Actors have to be consummate communicators. Good acting training focusses on the ability to communicate brilliantly eight shows a week without fail. The former requires soft skills and the latter, resilience.
Accepting that these are very useful skills for preparing young people for professional life, then acting and acting training skills become essential in general education. With Damian Hinds’ comments, it looks like they might be on the agenda.
Missing the point
This is worth writing about because this attitude is far from the norm. As recently as 2014, then UK education secretary, Nicky Morgan, advised young people against studying arts subjects as they don’t help the economy. That argument is for a different blog but it demonstrates the general antipathy towards the many values, economic and otherwise, that arts education can have.
Resilience and soft skills, Morgan seemed to miss, are fundamental leadership skills. They are things that I am asked to support people with day in, day out.
Change is in the air?
It is with great relief and excitement that I received the current education secretary’s comments. If Hinds gets his way, perhaps the next generation of professionals and leaders won’t require my services and my style of training.
Here’s hoping…sort of.