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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Wong

Are Our Kids Future Ready?

It is estimated that by 2025, 50% of the current workforce will need reskilling. Stop and consider that for a moment. Half of the working population will need to update their skill set to remain employable in the very near future. Are you ready? Are our kids going to be ready? Today I am having a quick look at education, and then providing tips for what we can do as parents to best prepare our kids for the future.


If diversifying skills is the future for our current workforce, how are we preparing our kids to thrive in an ever-changing and quickly advancing workplace? What are schools doing to equip the future problem solvers? The current model of education has not changed since schooling became compulsory in the 1800's, in that students learn subjects by listening to a teacher at the front of the classroom, taking notes, completing homework, and sitting assessment tasks. Where in the workforce, is this method of learning transferable? Upon beginning a new job, are we asked to sit in a room of 30 others, take notes form a PowerPoint and sit a test in another 5 weeks? Or are we shown our workplace, introduced to coworkers, perhaps assigned a mentor and taken through company policies and procedures?


If we look at the top ten most innovative companies of the current generation, do we see staff memorizing chunks of information and regurgitating it to meet their KPIs? No, we see whiteboards and brainstorms. We see visual representation of real world data, workspaces with a variety of seating arrangements, including beds! Top innovators recognise that the best problem solvers, the disruptors, the game changers, do not bode well in an environment completely lacking in autonomy. They do not cope being talked at and/or down to. The magic of innovation happens when environments cater for the needs of the individual. When the individual can carve their own path to a solution. True innovation is when that path is one that has not been considered previously, or one that results in an entirely new product or way of thinking.


If like me, you are a teacher, consider this challenge: How else might you present the content of your lessons? Can you take the class outside and teach and talk? Can you incorporate real life scenarios, happening right now? Can you hook your students through real world problem solving? Teaching is exhausting without enough hours in a day, but if you can try and transform some of your lessons (aim for one a week), the rewards of engaged and energised students are worth the effort. There are some amazing teachers doing just this, and I'd love to hear your examples in the comments.


If you are a parent like me, my question is this: How can we support future thinkers from home? Can we foster curiosity? How do we harness an inquiring mind through exploratory investigation and fact finding? Here are my top tips to fostering curious thinking in the home:


Tip One: Role Model. You are your child's most important teacher. As you come across problems, let your child know. Talk through your strategies with your kids. How did you cope? Were you frustrated? How did you calm down when you were angry? Monologuing your thought processes in front of your kids is a strange feeling at first, but the results are incredible. If our kids learn how to regulate their emotions through our example, we are off to a cracking start.


Tip Two: Solve puzzles together. Whether it be a traditional jigsaw puzzle, a cryptic riddle or building a flat pack, working through these problems develops a variety of skills. Most importantly, patience. Patience can be taught and modelled. In fact, kids today are quite accustomed to the instant gratification of the here and now, so learning a little patience, and experiencing positive outcomes through a process is an excellent life skill.


Tip Three: Explore outdoors. Nothing evokes curiosity in a child more than nature. Slow down, look closely and discuss what you see. Why is this trees leaves all facing the same way? Why does this small grass grow in patches? What animal do you think lives in here? The list is endless and you only have to look closely and model this a coupe of times before the kids are leading the way.


Tip Four: Read with your kids. Evidence backed, hands down one of the best things you can do for your child is support a love of literature. Discuss the characters, relate this to their world, how is this context like another? Reading with your child is not purely an academic endeavour, it develops and holds bonds, it opens up communicative pathways and it allows you to discuss other views, opinions, and other worlds with your child.


Now, you may have read this and be wondering, where is the technology? The thing is, ALL innovation starts with an idea. An idea that gets scribbled on paper, brainstormed on a whiteboard (yes some virtual), but the thing about technology, is that it is intuitive. Kids will pick it up and embrace it. We need to teach them how to think laterally, not show them how to use a screen.


I would love to hear about your curious little people in the comments. Happy family discovery!


Wongy


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