Prof Kneebone says he has seen a decline in the manual dexterity of students over the past decade – which he says is a problem for surgeons, who need craftsmanship as well as academic knowledge.
“An obvious example is of a surgeon needing some dexterity and skill in sewing or stitching,” he says.
“A lot of things are reduced to swiping on a two-dimensional flat screen,” he says, which he argues takes away the experience of handling materials and developing physical skills.
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.
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,” says the professor.
Can’t these kids do anything?