Education for a New Age

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As school is back in session, parents and teachers meet again to discuss and decide how best to prepare our children to thrive in the world around us.

And to make the challenge a bit more interesting, many say that change is happening faster and faster (HBR), leading professionals to learn new skills to be effective in their organizations, higher education institutions to adapt their curricula and even business models (Georgia Tech MOOC), and kids to learn how to code (TED).

So, let us step beyond typical school programs and brainstorm what else we can do to better prepare our children to succeed over the next decade, starting by exploring what is going on around us.

The world is changing

Our Industrial Age workplace is changing (Inc). And here are a some other changes going on right now:

  • The multi-generational workplace: as more generations continue to share the workplace (Forbes), it is important for newer generations to not only be able to collaborate, but also lead individuals from previous generations.
  • Global challenges for humanity: there are still various critical challenges like hunger, access to drinking water, and others (Millennium Project), where unprecedented levels of collaboration and selflessness significantly increase our ability to succeed.
  • Continuous learning: with life expectancy increasing (Wikipedia), it is paramount to encourage all age groups to make innovative contributions. In particular for school age children, should we be be looking for ways to teach today’s kids to be more receptive to change as they age and throughout their lives?

The right tools for the "job"

In order to succeed at these new challenges, we might want to upgrade out kids' tool set. And here are some skills which might just do the trick:

  • Purposeful networking: in order to tackle big challenges, it is critical to be able to understand the big picture, break it down into its actionable components, and identify individuals interested in partnering to accomplish common goals.
  • Cultural diversity: solving global challenges means required capital, solution designers, and impacted individuals might be in different continents. Individuals willing and able to understand and communicate with all involved are most likely to succeed.
  • Crowdsourcing: while many schools already expose students to teamwork, there is something to be said about the ability to selflessly partner with a stranger half way across the world to achieve a common goal, regardless of who “had which idea” or “solved that problem”.
  • Continuous improvement: beyond the simple exercise of patience and persistence, it is desirable to intentionally use patience and persistence to make actionable, incremental, and realistic progress towards solving global challenges, rather than simply idealized them as unachievable goals.
  • Learner for Life: moving from a “learning for grades” to focus on learning to acquire the necessary proficiency to accomplish a goal. And being willing to adapt as the world challenges continually morph around us.
  • Contextual leadership: leadership shift from a fight for power towards meaningfully connecting to a multi-generational workforce to engage each individual, helping increase innovation and productivity (infographic)

I am sure you have your own ideas on where we are headed and which skills might benefits our kids the most. I would love to hear your thoughts and discuss how we can expose our kids to these or other skills, allowing them to thrive in this new world. Feel free to share your thoughts, so we can explore options together! And please follow me, if you would like to be automatically notified when I publish new articles.