What are soft skills? The front of the Albany (Georgia) Herald today has a story about state official Melvin Everson coming to Albany to emphasis soft skills in K-12 education.
Soft skills include punctuality, ability to learn, appropriate business attire and teamwork. Really? Reading that article was a long blink second for me. My homeboy Richardson (Fort Valley State, Omega, teacher) talks about long blinks when realizing what the youth today don’t know or refuse to learn—it’s called good, old fashion common sense or home training. You learn it from the community, church, sports, band or working (as we did) in the “fields.”
Because I could talk and dress, I got out of the watermelon fields in high school and behind the microphone at “WRSG…radio Sylvester.” To be honest, I did say there was a 60% chance of precipitation during a downpour but I was trying. A lady called and said, “genius…there is a 100 percent chance..look out the freaking window.”
Many Americans learned soft skills from watching Leave It To Beaver, Father Knows Best, Family Ties, The Cosby Show, Family Matters and Good Times. James and Florida raised quality kids in a rough environment; they were a strong family.
Guys learn it by listening to oldheads in the barbershop and I imagine girls do the same in hair salons. Everson learned it at our Albany State University and in the U.S. Army. During his candidacy for state labor commissioner, I told Melvin that he would have had my vote in the general election because he was a Golden Rams and gets it.
Everson is a conservative and fully conscious of the budget constraints facing the state and national governments. So, I want to help Everson and former congressman, now Governor Nathan Deal save some money (Deal is cool because he always supported peanuts and other south Georgia crops.)
Georgia should create a program called the “Chameleon Project.” As we know, the chameleon is a little lizard that changes to camouflage itself in different settings. Of course, today’s youth want to be hard and thuggish like some hip hop stars. Newsflash: your hip hop heroes send their kids to prep school in the suburbs because only a nut wants to be in the hard life–ask prisoners. As the late, great Bernie Mack said, “If you went to jail for someone else…you aren’t a punk…you are a new fool.” The Mack man said he would have been jumping up and down in court with his hand up, “he kilt that boy, your honor..I tried to call you but I didn’t have your number.” I digress.
The Chameleon Project would show young people how to learn from everyone, how to switch attire to secure the cool mall job and how to speak clearly and properly. Watching the right T.V. shows can improve soft skills. If a person says “youknowwhatIsayin” constantly, I don’t. The smooth tone on NPR radio would give a young person a vocal camouflage option. Cuban immigrant and former CEO of Coca Cola Robert Goizueta taught himself English by watching the same movies over and over. We know some people can turn it on and off like a faucet but if you can’t, default to the manner of speech that puts legal money in your pocket.
It is a shame that young people spend so much money on clothes (not made in America) but don’t have a dark suit to wear to their grandmother’s funeral. FYI: cut the tag off the sleeve. The unofficial hero on the Chameleon Project is Eddie Haskell from Leave It To Beaver. Eddie was a cutup but he could pour on the charm when parents were around. In the courtship and employment interview processes, we oldheads like to see a young man who can rock the classics….Blue Blazer…presses white button-down…khakis..penny loafs… prep tie. I was crushing the sweethearts’ mommies with that gear in 82 and it was the same gear my father wore at A&T in 32. That functional outfit could be put together in Wal-mart for under $100 bucks.
I once worked in a job skill training program and the clients/students always said that this information should have been introduced to them ten years earlier–before certain paths were chosen. So, Deal and Everson are on the right track because moving into management will require more than the basic technical skills. I bet the youth in developing nations are as sharp as a razor and clean as a whistle; they have the eye of the Tiger.
Melvin, check this out, oldschool..holla at your boy.” Translation: “Mr. Everson, look here, fellow alum..contact me for additional discussions regarding this matter.”