Should schools teach communication skills?

Joel Herrera, Editor

Don’t bother with trying to spice up that resume because the truth about most millennials is they’re absolutely hopeless when it comes to basic life and workplace skills, experts say.

Many teens today have problems in advocating and communicating their needs. A survey conducted by One Poll found 65 percent of American Millennials don’t feel comfortable engaging with someone face-to-face, and 80 per cent prefer conversing digitally.

Kids today spend hours each day engaging with one another through screens, but rarely do they have an opportunity to truly hone their interpersonal communication skills. Admittedly, teenage awkwardness and nerves play a role in difficult conversations, but students’ reliance on screens for communication is a distraction from their engagement in real-time talk.

I watch so many of my peers fall silent when it comes to conversations everyday. They go above and beyond to keep their chats a minimum because they lack the confidence to have one. Instead, they shuffle through papers and looked down at their hands when someone is talking to them. Some even reach for their phones—an automatic impulse and the last thing you should be doing.

Technology has made verbal communication meaningless in many parts of life. Anyone can order pizza, take part in a university class, or plan a holiday event through an app. What this means is young people aren’t used to speaking to someone in person or on the phone, and the thought of doing so terrifies them. This is why so many teens have a fear of standing up for themselves, incapable of small talk and critical thinking and problem-solving.

“Phones have caused us to weaken our ability to use language properly,” says Delta English teacher Dana Madrigal.

Communication is now slowly decreasing to a point where teens are losing the ability to read social cues and have empathy. As they become older, more technology, new phones, and IPads will be introduced, and they will continue to be dependent on the technology. Being dependent on technology such as cell phones, at this age can only mean that it will lead to an even bigger decrease in communication skills as these children age. Unless they are speaking to others face to face they won’t practice or learn how to read social cues.

The workplace is changing quickly and young people need to realize the importance of having real-life interactions. We need to prepare young people for a world some of us are only now beginning to face. Young people need to be taught communication skills so that they may succeed in their future. They need to learn how to communicate whether they are at work or home. Schools can help those struggling simply by offering classes that help young people make friends, have adventures and build skills for work and life.