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On Fax Machines at Duck Hunts

Dr. Randy Watts
At the 2015 Annual Meeting I made the comment that, due to the uncertainty of the future workplace, parents are increasingly overloading their children with activities in the hope that they will somehow find the combination of skills they need to survive as adults.
At the 2015 Annual Meeting I made the comment that, due to the uncertainty of the future workplace, parents are increasingly overloading their children with activities in the hope that they will somehow find the combination of skills they need to survive as adults.

I likened this situation to a hunter carrying ear and eye protection, shells, a fax machine, coffee maker, and a tuba out on a duck hunt. While it is possible that all of these things may be useful in some general capacity, the hunter would indubitably be overwhelmed and confused when he happened upon a duck.

Current Brookwood students will enter the world of work in an unprecedented context. Never before in the history of the modern world have there been four generations in the workplace; never has it been possible to acquire and seamlessly integrate talent from around the world; and never before has there been such a lack of clarity about the jobs that are on the horizon.  
Some schools, with good-hearted intent, run the risk of fueling anxiety about the future by offering every activity on the face of the planet. While it is nice to have options, I believe schools must emphasize quality over quantity and that parents should understand that there is no one magic combination of activities that will yield a successful adulthood.
Too much choice does not serve anyone well; it promotes indecision, a lack of focus, and even depression. Please consider watching this TED talk on the “Paradox of Choice” for a deeper explanation of what I mean.

For those of us who had the opportunity to hear Dr. Jacqueline Morgan, Associate Dean in the Honors College at the University of Alabama, speak at Brookwood earlier this month, a consistent theme throughout her talk was passion. She noted that students who can convey a sense of focused passion – not those with the fullest resumes – are the ones to whom she’d have been more likely to offer admission.

As we develop our programs at Brookwood, we intend for the underpinnings to emphasize depth over breadth, while we emphasize the skills that are being increasingly identified as necessary for success in the workplace of the future: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication. These are not activity-specific but are skills to be applied across almost all activities and situations.
Ultimately, we want students to learn how to think and to cultivate passions in a few areas.

If you would like to learn more about what your child’s workplace may look like, please consider reading Meister and Willyerd’s The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today.
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Located in Thomasville, GA, Brookwood School is a private school for grades JK-12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.