In the uncertain and complex world of the future, the only constant is — change. More than memorizing science and math formulas, young children should be taught the art of — how to adapt and thrive in the continually evolving world of tomorrow.
McKinsey Global Institute reports that by 2030, robots and AI would have replaced one-fifth of the global workforce. Industry analyzers assure us that for every job taken over by machines, new ones will be created. But, the big question is — what are the new roles likely to be, and how should we prepare our children for the challenging workplace of tomorrow?
Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, recently announced on his 55th birthday that he is stepping down from the post of Chairman to return to his first love — teaching. However, this time, he wants to do things differently. He states that the things we’re teaching our children today are things from the past 200 years — it’s all knowledge-based. It doesn’t prepare them for a future where they have to co-exist with machines.
Ma states that our children shouldn’t be competing with machines based on knowledge. Instead, we should teach our children the skills and values that machines cannot possess. He goes on to state that qualities like independent thinking, empathy, teamwork will be the most prized skills a few years down the line. It is what will make our children irreplaceable in the workplace of the future. He goes on to state that creative skills like — arts, painting, music, sports — are what will make them different.
A Paradigm Shift from IQ to EQ and LQ
In India, we have always focused on the intelligence quotient of children. Grades were awarded based on a child’s ability to crack mathematical problems based on pre-taught formulas, and reproducing science concepts.
There was no room for creativity. Right from kindergarten to under-graduation and even beyond that, our education system focused on developing rote and robotic skills, rather than creative and skilled.
The World Economic Forum’s 2018 report on the Future of Jobs states that skills like — creativity, originality, critical thinking, negotiation, persuasion, initiative, attention to detail, flexibility, resilience, and complex problem solving — will be the most in-demand skills in the future.
In the coming decade, the focus will shift from IQ to EQ (Emotional Quotient) and LQ (Love Quotient).
What are the skills we should be teaching our children to prepare them for the Changing World?
Yuval Noah Harari, a pedagogical expert in his best-selling book, 21 lessons for the 21st century, writes that schools should shift their focus from the three Rs — Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic to the four Cs — creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking.
To put it simply, schools should shift their focus from building the technical skills of students and instead inculcate like skills. The most important of all skills would be — teaching children the ability to remain flexible, adapt, and change when faced with unfamiliar situations.
Besides the four Cs, I firmly believe that young children should be allowed to play uninterrupted for many years as possible. Play teaches children valuable life skills like teamwork, collaboration, empathy, and other vital social skills that help them flourish both in school and beyond in the future.
In certain countries, especially in the Scandinavian nations, children start attending formal school only at the age of six. However, in India, we have a preconceived notion that the earlier they start, the faster they learn. We expect our children to master formal skills like reading and writing, at the tender ages of 3 and 4. It places undue stress on the young child that they start developing an aversion to formal education.
Not just in primary school, learners should continue to engage in play-based learning even when they move to middle and secondary school. Most of our secondary schools are stuck in the 19th century, with rigid pedagogies. Children are expected to memorize big formulas and derive large equations without basic understanding or application. It is because of this that later in life they often struggle to apply knowledge towards new and better ways of doing things.
To prepare our children for the future, we need to introduce learning based on doing projects and solving real world problems. They should learn — what works and what doesn’t, what could be done better — by building stuff, making things. Assessments should be based on the quality (and excellence) of their work, rather than only writing formal pen-and-paper tests. Exams have their place, however should not be the only means of assessment.
Education for 2030: The Vision
Schools and educators today hold a big responsibility — they should commit to helping every learner fulfill his/her potential, develop as a unique individual, while focusing on the well-being of other individuals, communities, and the planet as a whole.
With environmental challenges, a massive problem today, children in school, and those entering school in the next few years should be taught the importance of resource management, sustainability, and progress without damaging the available resources.
Children should be empowered while being responsible. They should value the power of collaborative work over purely individual gain, and above all, focus on sustainable growth instead of short-term gains.
In the increasingly volatile, complex, uncertain, and ambiguous world — the right education makes a sea of difference. Children should be taught how to embrace the challenges (and even failure), face them instead of being overwhelmed by challenges and failure. Resilience is all about learning from failure and growing. After all Edison build the light bulb in his 106th attempt. This does not mean he failed 105 times. He never gave up. This is the mindset educators need to develop in children.
In an era where scientific knowledge and technologies are progressing at a lightning speed, we must evolve our school curricula to equip our children to face the challenges of tomorrow.
Watch Sandy Hooda, Co-Founder, Vega Schools speak about why schools need to evolve and how the new-age education can make the difference in our lives.
Our education has to change today to make our children ready for tomorrow. Are we ready to embrace the challenge?