There's no doubt that video games and manipulating phones and tablets develop certain skills. But if we think all that button pushing and finger-swiping are improving manual dexterity, apparently it's not doing so in ways that still matter greatly—such as the skills needed by a surgeon.

Roger Kneebone, professor of surgical education at Imperial College, London, says young people have so little experience of craft skills that they struggle with anything practical. ... "It is a concern of mine and my scientific colleagues that whereas in the past you could make the assumption that students would leave school able to do certain practical things—cutting things out, making things—that is no longer the case," says Prof Kneebone.

Prof Kneebone says he has seen a decline in the manual dexterity of students over the past decade. ... Students have become "less competent and less confident" in using their hands, he says. ... "We have students who have very high exam grades but lack tactile general knowledge."

Such skills might once have been gained at school or at home, whether in cutting textiles, measuring ingredients, repairing something that's broken, learning woodwork or holding an instrument.

Is this something to be gravely concerned about, or will we simply turn surgery over to robots the way we have turned shifting the gears in our cars over to automatic transmissions?

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, June 8, 2019 at 7:02 am | Edit
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I have always had shaky hands. It helps that I know this, and can work around it, but it has impacted the hobbies I pick up and job options I consider. Now, in a lot of cases I would assume that this generation's lack of skills come from a lack of practice as a child. It certainly never occurred to me or my parents that my small twitches were in any way a problem. They didn't become so until I became an adult and realized that while I can accurately peg you with a ball from 20 paces, I cannot thread a needle by myself. (Much of this, I suspect, is partly the result of poor sleep patterns.)

I think he's right in his concern. I don't know how grave of a situation this will make things, but it does make you wonder about your doctors. But the whole medical field seems to have changed sometime recently.

Posted by Brenda on Monday, June 10, 2019 at 7:38 am
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