This is part 1 of 2 posts about a topic which is very near and dear to my heart, the future of education. I would like to hear your views and how we can enable our children to be ready for a future like never before.
13 years ago, when I came to the US, I used a calling card to talk to my parents. Today, I Facetime with them for free. The world has and is constantly changing around us and this is not news. What is news though, is how it is changing – through rapidly evolving technology powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation and robotics. Our future will look radically different from our world today, with different types of jobs, different skills required to be successful and may be a different kind of society. Who knows, if college education/universities as we know it will even exist or if open online courses with focus on skill-based certification/diplomas will become the norm? Every generation of parents has perhaps struggled with this, but our generation will see fundamental changes to the workforce as we know it and it would be a disservice to our kids to not prepare them for such a future. So, it got me thinking, “how do we prepare our children for a future that will bring with it profound changes?”
I don’t have a lot of answers yet, but one thing is for sure – our kids are going to need skills of self-learning, exploring, creative thinking, i.e. transferable skills, way more than any generation has ever needed. As they say in the Consulting world, if you don’t know the answer, “figure it out”. This “figure it out” is going to be the norm.
My family is deeply impacted by this wave of automation and robotics and maybe that is why this topic weighs so heavily on me. Himanshu’s (my husband) day job involves evaluating and enabling Artificial Intelligence capabilities to improve all aspects of Health Care. I am a robotics and automation major and recently worked on a project to study the impact of replacing humans with robots in the financial services industry. Change is already happening around us, so it is imperative that we start to think about the impact of this change on our future generation. Himanshu and I constantly think about and debate on this topic. Here are a few things that we do agree on (haha, yes there are a few!) which we think are going to be key differentiators for success for future generations:
- Emotional Quotient (or EQ) development will be way more important because everything else will be automated. Your EQ will be what makes you stand out. Empathy, self-awareness, self- regulation, tolerance and acceptance will have to be table stakes without which no one can succeed. Look around us, even with limited automation today, the world can use a little more self-regulation and empathy. And may be follow the principles of non-violence and co-existence taught by the great leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and others. Incidentally, today is Gandhi Jayanti, i.e. a celebration of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. And today, the world needs a reminder of his principles of non-violence and co-existence especially in light of the mass shooting in Vegas last night. (Where is humanity headed?!)
- Encouraging teaching by practical examples and incorporating creative thinking into every aspect of life – I strongly believe that creativity will not remain a domain of the artists, but rather, would be essential in all aspects of society – science & technology, e-commerce, manufacturing, energy, banking, etc.
One of my favorite examples to give is about my niece and a project that she was working on for school. They were given a simple object – a can opener and the students were asked to recommend one simple design change that would improve its function. Such a great way to promote young minds to think out of the box!
- Ability to challenge status quo, challenge norms and ask the question “why”, “is there an easier way” or “why not try this”. A few days ago, I was telling my daughter to do something (which I can’t remember of course!), expecting her to simply comply, which she did. Then, I stopped myself. I wanted her to question me, ask me, “mom, why are you asking me to do that?” I know in the short run, it will be a headache to answer her “whys” but in the long run, I want to teach her the importance of challenging the status quo and not taking everything at face value regardless of the source of that information.
While today, we can “get-by” with doing repeatable tasks, the future I think will not allow us this luxury. It will be more un-forgiving. So, my question to you is:
Do you agree that we need to change our approach to education? And, if you do, then I would LOVE to hear what do you think are the skills which will be important for our kids to succeed in the future?
Be honest and feel free to disagree and let me know what you think. (No, my feelings will not be hurt if you tell me I am reading too many sci-fi books!)
If you enjoyed reading Part 1 of this series, stay tuned for Part 2 where we intend to explore what we can do to prepare our kids for this future!