What I want my children to learn

“The knowledge and information that our children are getting through formal education system, is it good enough for them to face the rapid advancements in science and technology?”

“Are our kids getting ready to face the rapid changes in social structure?”

“Are our children developing the solid foundation to be successful in globalised world?

As parents of two under-teen children, my wife and I often go over these questions. Our discussions move around the education system, type of schools, curriculum etc. The fact that we often go through these discussions shows that we have yet to get satisfactory answer.

We realised that we are trying to find the answer in wrong place. School or curriculum system’s mandate does not include getting children ready for the new world. We have nothing against the education system – it is doing its job. We have nothing against the schools – they are teaching the curriculum that is prescribed by the board of education.

However we all agree that it is not good enough. Challenges are of different kind.

When I look at their curriculum and books and compare with the advancements in every field, the gap is yawning. In the coming years what our children are learning in schools would be outdated by the time they go to college. Our children are going to find so much of gap in what they know and what they are expected to know when they go out in the real life that it is going to baffle them. Till 10/15 years back the transition from education system to real life was quite smooth.

The challenges are not going to be only in education, they are going to be in social life as well. The contours of social circle have already changed. When we grew up we and our parents had an idea of the social structure we would be entering in and we were groomed accordingly. With the virtual societies and online social networking we do not know how the societies are going to be shaped by the internet world.

Also in the professional field our children would be working in a globalised environment. They would need different skills to excel in such environments.

To help our children prepare to handle such situations, we need to help them acquire skills. Following is my list :

Ability to learn “how to learn” :
Today’s learning process has a structure which is made up of class room learning and books. And there is an assessment process at the end of it. Most often the learning is guided by the assessment process. As the information and knowledge are changing so rapidly, kids would have to look at many sources of information beyond books and class room. There might not be formal assessment process in place.

Usually our mind processes new information based on what it has learnt, it tries to find the context with the available information. In the coming days, the new information that children would be coming across would be far away from the context of what they have learnt, very often the information would be contradicting what the mind already knows. This information would not be fitting in the mind’s frame of reference.

In such cases I would like my children to develop ability to understand new sources, process such information and learn from it. I would like my children to go through the skills development system that would help them face entirely new scenarios and face them confidently.

Collaborate :
While the education and school systems teaches student to be competitive and zero sum game, its not going to be the only trait that would see them through in the coming age. I would like children to learn how to collaborate and become stronger . The personal growth and learning are going to happen more through collaboration and understanding of communities than being just a competitive person.

Work in virtual teams :
Our children learn how to deal with their friends and people around them on a daily basis. But in the new world we increasingly find ourselves working with the people whom we don’t meet in person. We deal with problems by working with the team members through electronic and digital communications. Very often our decisions are based on our knowledge of our friend or colleague’s background. That is not going to be the case in virtual world where children would have to deal with people and their culture about which they have no idea. I would like my children to learn the skills of dealing with virtual teams.

Leadership through influence :
Today children are learning leadership skills that are oriented towards ‘command and control’ approach. In the new world it is the influence that would matter to become a leader. Also in the coming times, while working in different communities the role of a person would keep changing. The real leadership would come through influence and not through titles. I would like my children to understand the importance of being team player, influencer and a leader.

The conventional education system can not instill these skills due to paucity of time and often due to lack of quantification criterion. But we all know that these skills are important and in coming times these would be the skills for basic survival. I strongly believe that we as parents would have to come forward and create communities to help our children learn these skills along with their regular education system. If you know any such community which is trying to do so, please share here.


4 Responses to What I want my children to learn

  1. sankarshan says:

    “How to think”. That’s a good process to coach.

    • sachindabir says:

      Very interesting. Would love to hear from you on this.
      Also along with that we would have to go to the depth of “what is thinking” what does it do and “how to channelise your thinking” would be related topics.

      Knowing you, I am sure you would penned down thoughts on these lines already. Share the link.

      • sankarshan says:

        I have a standard cop-out response – I don’t have kids 🙂

        I posted that comment in a bit of a rush. When I say “how to think” I don’t mean about teaching them about the philosophy of thought or, even the theory and methods of thought.

        I often wonder if the parents have time to encourage kids to think about everything. A trivial example – you are traveling in a car and you spend the time explaining in very simple terms the concepts of engine and how pressing the accelerator pedal actually makes the car go faster and all of that. When we were young, at least when I was, there used to be this nice series called “Tell me why…” On hindsight it allowed one to explore with remarkable simplicity the everyday incidents.

        A coaching to think about issues is probably the second best thing parents can provide their children with (the first being a clear moral compass).

  2. Kaustubh Patwardhan says:

    Hi Sachin,

    a very nice article. We share a similar experience in terms of discussions about education system and all. Your article has gone further in analysing the actual skills that may be required in coming years. Nice one. I think, it will become more important to analyse the vast information and pick up the right one. That will be the key.
    Thanks a lot for such articles which relate to daily life, family and our future directions as a parent.

    With Best Regards,
    Kaustubh Patwardhan

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