It’s true. Technology has made our lives easier. We no longer have to try to add up our grocery bill on a piece of scratch paper nor do we need to know how to produce beautiful penmanship. Or do we? Questions about the skills we need to learn in the 21st century are plentiful these days. However, many of the skills that we believe to be obsolete aren’t. Here’s a look at three older skills that are still relevant.


With the proliferation of email, mobile apps and document-creation software, there has been some talk about doing away with teaching cursive writing. This skill, which is usually taught in the third or fourth grade, still has its place in modern life. On the very practical side of things, contracts and other official documents still require a signature when signed in-person, and most people sign their names in cursive. Cursive can also be very helpful to know for genealogical purposes since people hundreds of years ago wrote most things in cursive. Gen-Xers and millennials who have old papers and diaries from their grandparents can still read them if they know how to read cursive.

Writing Letters

You may not get as many letters and postcards through the good old USPS as you used to but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to know how to write letters. Letters of introduction and cover letters are still standard business documents even if they’re now conveyed via email instead of snail mail. Employers still expect cover letters to accompany a resume. Make sure you pay attention to the details in the body of your message so that you look professional. Take additional care to ensure that you include a way to get in contact with you as well as the best times to do so.

Math Without a Calculator

Calculators have their place in advanced math classes. However, giving students the opportunity to work out a math problem without a calculator teaches some valuable skills. In math class, kids still learn skills like the order of operations, how to plug an algebra formula into a geometry assignment and how to make a Venn diagram. All of these math skills require knowledge of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Learning how to do math without a calculator teaches students the skills they’ll need in order to understand the procedures of advanced math.

Many people argue that skills like cursive writing, some math skills, and even letter writing are no longer necessary. However, many of these skills tie use to our past and teach us how to interact in the present, making them necessary skills to teach our kids even if there are technologies to replace these skills.

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