Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ms. Chumlig’s Wisdom (Rainbows End)

In Rainbows End, a science fiction book by Vernor Vinge set in the near future, Ms. Chumlig is a teacher at Fairmont High, a sort of tech school for not so successful teenagers and for older adults. (See My November 29th Blog on Rainbows End.) Although she is fictional, her wisdom is relevant to adults in the real-life job market today.

The first bit of advice could come straight out of a Seth Godin book or blog entry:

Some of you think your hand in life is all deuces and treys. But I have a theory of life and it is straight out of gaming. There is always an angle. You, each of you, have some special wild cards. Play with them. Find out what makes you different and better. Because it is there, if only you can find it. And once you do, you’ll be able to contribute answers to others and others will be willing to contribute back to you. In short, synthetic serendipity doesn’t just happen. By golly, you must create it.
After talking with my fifth grade teacher hostess on Thanksgiving, I am convinced that most middle-aged and older adults could use some classes to update their skill sets:

Administration has changed a lot—Okay. So we have to learn some new tricks—Yes …That’s an important point. This class is about search [web searching] and analysis, the heart of the economy. We obviously need search and analysis as consumers. In almost all modern jobs, search and analysis are how we make out living. But, in the end, we must also know something about something.

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