Dixie Darr

In creativity, Learning, work on October 14, 2008 at 9:29 am

Getting Down to Basics

Lifehacker, the blog offering tips and downloads for getting things done, recently ran a poll to determine their readers’ top basic skills. Among the top vote getters:

  • Iron a shirt 4% (10598 votes)
  • Put out a fire 4% (10468 votes)
  • Install a graphics card 4% (10167 votes)
  • Move heavy stuff 4% (10060 votes)
  • Change a tire 4% (9750 votes)
  • Jump start a car 4% (9495 votes)
  • Grill with charcoal 4% (9142 votes)
  • Tie a necktie 4% (8858 votes)
  • Ditch your hard drive 4% (8821 votes)
  • Fix a toilet tank flapper 4% (8526 votes)
  • Sew a button on a shirt 4% (8512 votes)
  • Shoot a home movie 4% (8500 votes)
  • Shine shoes 3% (8067 votes)
  • Perform the Heimlich 3% (8036 votes)

I’m not sure how many of these skills I would consider necessary. I mean, who irons shirts? It reminded me of a very different list from Robert A Heinlein’s book, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long:

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

My personal list would have to include keyboarding, and my students who never learned it agree that it is one skill that would really help them.

However, I recently found a quote from Steven Snyder that I might adopt as my personal mantra:

“The primary tool that one needs in modern day culture are to know how to make things up and how to figure things out. This is creativity in two of its forms. These are called imagination and problem-solving.”

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