This is how we prepare students at St. George’s to face the many challenges of the future
“65% of children who start primary school today will end up starting their working lives in completely new jobs that still do not exist.”
So how do you prepare children to face the many challenges that technology poses? How do we encourage entrepreneurship and adaptability in them so that they know how to function in a labor market that is an enigma? How do we train critical citizens, capable of tackling problems like climate change and committed to equality?
Students who start school today at St. George’s will finish their education in a radically more interconnected, complex, uncertain and rapid world. Everything indicates that the next decades will be determined by large factors such as:
- Exponential technological growth
- Accelerate automation
- Population growth and urbanization
- Continued growth of the middle class
- The social and environmental impact of climate change
- Ecological fragility and loss of biodiversity
- Radically changing and controversial balance of power in the world
- Political tension and turmoil, change of social contact
“New categories of jobs will emerge, partially or totally displacing others,” says the World Economic Forum in its 2018 report, The Future of Jobs. “The skill sets required in old and new occupations will change in most industries and transform how and where people work.”
On her part, and to shed a bit of optimism, engineer Aspen Meineke explains in her ISTE19 TED Talk that the role of teachers is to help students find their passion or spark.
It seems clear that today’s education cannot ignore the hyper technological context that we inhabit, but in what way is it better to approach this and other challenges that education faces? “Technology is in our lives and it is here to stay, so the classroom cannot be conceived without it. We talk about the fundamental need to learn languages, but perhaps we should assume that the new generations are going to need to speak a third language, that of programming. For this reason, it is essential not only for technology to reach the classroom, but also for teachers, who must be prepared to transmit this new language of the future to children”, explains Helena Herrero, CEO of HP and president of the Foundation I + E, an association that represents the commitment of some of the largest multinationals present in Spain with the development of investments and R + D + i activities. That is why at St. George’s we have laboratories for students to understand in a practical way the reality of the world; using scientific materials and instruments to promote STEM knowledge. Teaching values to our students is more important today than ever.
Tomorrow’s world: more aptitude and attitude than knowledge
Three years ago, when humanity did not imagine that more than half of the population would be forced to remain confined in their homes, the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE) spoke in its white paper, Education matters, of the need of adapting educational and training systems “to an increasingly uncertain and complex future.”
This path must run parallel to that of companies, which demand increasingly better-trained talent, not so much in terms of knowledge as in skills and attitudes. The ability to learn has become the main ability to function successfully in economic, social and labor scenarios that are characterized by the speed of change and the management of uncertainty. Our brains have to be more plastic than ever to manage knowledge and experiences flexibly and always be ready to innovate.
“Intelligence is a particularly dynamic unit that changes its structure based on experiences,” says Céline Alvarez, author of the French bestseller The Natural Laws of the Child. The author defends the importance of adequately nurturing the child’s intelligence, which she considers highly plastic. To achieve this, you have to offer her a quality environment and forget the idea that genetics determines her cognitive ability. Because, in reality, ‘what we are is determined above all by our environment’: what we eat, what we hear, what we experience, what we exercise, what ultimately surrounds us and we make it surround us. That is why choosing a school that adapts to the changing world is so momentous. As educators and parents, we are their main influence and it is our responsibility to teach them to be people with values so that they can grow up to be caring, respectful and confident adults.
Everything indicates that the best prepared students will be those who acquire skills and attitudes in their childhood such as:
- Flexibility, adaptability and resilience, and continuous learning
- Social and environmental awareness; respect for the common good
- Skills to build relationships, communicate and collaborate across borders.
- Scientific, mathematical and technical competence
- Rigorous and independent critical thinking
- Powers of innovation, invention and creativity
- Communication, influence and leadership
In a changing context like the current one, continuous training helps us adapt to a new society, a new economy, a new world and, above all, a different future. At St. George’s we educate so that our students acquire the most likely fundamental skills for the future.
Education has the mission of educating people in their integrity. It is a process of transformation that does not stop the day the degree is received, but continues throughout life.
Let’s take an example. Occupations related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), as well as professional functions in business management and legal affairs could grow by more than 20% in the next decade, according to the study The future of work in Europe, carried out by the consulting firm McKinsey Global Institute.
Training at this time presents a plus for all of us. Those who, with a good attitude, resilience, effort and patience, know how to overcome all adversities so as not to lose sight of their goal, which is to train and therefore transform, will mark a before and after. If we are able to learn, adapt flexibly, not effortlessly and painlessly, to this situation, we will have developed a certain immunity in a changing context, even if we perceive it as too disruptive and volatile. Only in this way will we know how to build new stories for everything new that is emerging: a new society, a new economy, a new world and, above all, a different future.
The challenge is to choose between believing ourselves with the perfect solution and recipe or keep looking. Educational institutions, by vocation and almost by definition, must continue to seek and, therefore, transform ourselves, because there is no doubt: if we want to transform education, we must begin by transforming our students: providing them with positive and enriching experiences that develop them as people and get the best out of them, it is the mission of our school. Let us see the challenge of educating for the future as a vector of impulse in this field towards a healthier world in every way.