Good Employee Cut Against Norms
A Google study made headlines with its answer to the question, “What makes a good employee?”
Similar results have been reported by other studies as well. But the most credible support for these conclusions is simple. It’s called common sense.
The Washington Post summarizes the Google study results.
“Project Oxygen shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others’ different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas …
Soft Skills in High Tech
Project Aristotle, a study released by Google this past spring, further supports the importance of soft skills even in high-tech environments … A recent survey of 260 employers by the nonprofit National Association of Colleges and Employers, which includes both small firms and behemoths like Chevron and IBM, also ranks communication skills in the top three most sought-after qualities by job recruiters.
This is a position long held by classical Christian educators, who anchor their programs in rhetorical training. As Dorothy Sayers famously says in her essay “The Lost Tools of Learning”:
Is it not the great defect of our education today … that although we often succeed in teaching our pupils “subjects,” we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think? They learn everything, except the art of learning.
Classical Christian education, following the Western tradition of mastering ideas, and taking every thought captive to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, could turn this around. Today, our country’s schools teach STEM as though it will save us from economic doom while they shun the study of ideas as impractical gibberish.
We need to refocus school on ideas.
Today, our schools push out literature in favor of textbooks that teach stuff. We need to restore the moral imagination of our children through great stories.
Today, our schools create subject buckets of disconnected knowledge. We need to teach all things as an integrated whole, pointing to the unity they have in Christ’s kingdom. We need to teach our children to think and communicate and achieve in a constantly changing world where technology is just a tool and the focus is on a life well-lived. That’s success.