Necessary skills: typing, statistics

When my kids were little, I had a small obsession: We had to teach them to type! They were heading into a future full of keyboards, and that was going to be a vital skill. I bought touch-typing software programs and urged them to practice. They didn’t pay any attention. Yet last night they were sitting here in this living room with me, laptops open, and they were effortlessly typing away. They didn’t need to “learn” how to type. They just did it. (I’ll have to check to see if they use the left pinky for the Q.)

These leads me to wonder if there are other vital skills that we can just count on kids to pick up. Probability and statistics, for example. I think we should all have a good grasp of these, because as more and more of our lives are interpreted through our data, our futures will be fed back to us as statistics. If we misunderstand those, we’ll get played even more than we are today. Will they figure out stats the way they learned to type?

I don’t think so. If you don’t learn how to type, you can’t communicate. So you practice, and you learn. But if you fundamentally misunderstand statistics and math, you plow along through life and perhaps never learn. You just make bad decisions, whether it’s blowing savings on the state lottery or misreading actuarial statistics and buying an outsized life insurance package.

So I’ll press them on statistics, for what it’s worth.

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