The miseducation of the modern childSunday, June 04, 2017
Brittany Singh Williams
I am not yet a mother to my own children, but I have big plans for who they will be. I envision children sure of who and whose they are; walking in purpose; contributing to the thriving development of The Kingdom and this nation. My children will be influencers; my children will be difference makers.As catalyst for the growth trajectory of a child, I can only imagine the grave concerns of parents who are being bombarded with talks of the fourth industrial revolution and the impact the digital age will have on their children's future jobs and livelihoods. The future, for which, the parents are expected to adequately equip their children.
The fourth industrial revolution, according to Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, is said to be “driven by increasing automation of the labour market — enabled by rapid innovations in robotics, artificial intelligence and smart technologies. These transformative forces will cause unprecedented disruption of global citizens' lives over the coming decades, due to speed of change and inability to adapt to the expected pace and, the ubiquity of change — impacting all sectors”. The onset of the revolution creates a dynamic landscape that young people will have to navigate.
Not so long ago parents knew that enabling their child's good education was quite simply the best way to set them on the path to a successful career. Today, while important, this plan is certainly not certain.
The workplace is evolving at such a rapid pace that many skills now in high demand were not in existence five years ago. Parents need to begin to wrap their heads around the fact that academic excellence is no longer enough.
All roads lead to a deeper commitment to how we collectively contribute to the educational environment. In the same way we cannot wait until our house burns down to buy fire insurance, we cannot wait on the Government to institute new methods of teaching, learning and assessing to prepare our children for tomorrow.
The reality is that not only is time of the essence, but it is impossible to predict the hard skills we will require in the future.
The good news is that studies suggest that a focus on 21st century soft skills will, however, serve to prepare us. This is because, even with the growth in artificial intelligence (yes, computers help us to solve problems), humans ask the questions worth solving.
What we are taught and learn, therefore, should amplify our human potential. Even better to note is that these soft skills being thrown around as profound educational terms are characteristics which are at our very core. They simply need refinement. These soft skills include: adaptability, a positive attitude, communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, accountability, teamwork, and self-confidence.
These are all elements of practice that were once in the background of all our lives. Team building, eye contact, analysis of body language, and conflict resolution were constantly demanded from us as we are growing up. We had to learn to answer the family phone, speak politely to adults, and deal with the boredom of a long bus ride. Unfortunately, with dependence on technology and the breakdown of societal values, these are all skills we have to reteach over and over. Luckily there are tons of activities and lessons available at www.google.com that can help you in developing these skills with your children.
Joint effort by the education system and private business to ensure students are equipped with interpersonal skills is crucial for the modern workplace. However, the sooner parents and guardians are empowered, and are realistic about the changes of the 21st century, the sooner we can move to address the challenges that ensure our children will become the best versions of themselves in the days to come.
Brittany Singh Williams, MEd, is an international and global education specialist. She will be the first female curator of the Global Shapers Kingston Hub when she begins her two-year tenure this month. The Global Shapers Community is an initiative of the World Economic Forum, which operates as a not-for-profit foundation, headquartered in Switzerland, that brings together leaders from around the world, from different backgrounds and industries.
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