By Farozan Warsi
“Why does everything have to be so teachy-teachy!” eight-year old Myra complained.
“What do you mean teachy-teachy?” asked Mom. “Well,” she said, “everything turns into a lesson. It’s just so boring.”
Myra’s perception of lessons being boring is perhaps a fair indicator that instruction gets too content-specific in the business of schooling. When the focus is on content alone, creativity is the casualty, and a child devoid of creativity is… just that…. bored!
What is Learning?
Real learning is enjoyable. It is creative in its content. It invites participation. It uses reasoning. It brings vitality to existence.
And that is the kind of learning that is going to count in the future. The education sector too recognizes that. No more are schools fixated on pure content. Teaching practices now incorporate what are called the 4 C’s – Collaboration, Communication, Critical thinking, and Creativity into their core learning.
What has changed?
Specialised areas of learning that were unheard of previously are now part of the 21st century work culture. Artificial intelligence, Graphic designing, Data Science, Drone operations are occupations that did not exist back in the day. Today automation is the looming giant. Studies suggest that nearly half of the jobs across major countries of the world will become automated in the future. Interestingly, it has also been estimated that 2/3s of the children of today will be in jobs that do not currently exist. Are we preparing our children sufficiently for this new challenge?
21st Century Skills
In 2016 the World Economic Forum released a report about the challenges of the 21st century and the skills that would be required to navigate the future. A third of these skills were hard skills, viz. Reading, Writing, Arithmetic (the three R’s). These are broadly what are referred to as IQ skills. The rest are nothing but the reverse of IQ skills, which Dr. Laura Jana (Pediatrician, educator, author) calls QI skills, pronounced ‘Key’ skills.
So literally this is how this skill distribution looks like:
Reading, Writing, Arithmetic
Impulse control, Self awareness, Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Decision making, Adapatability, Problem solving
These Key/QI skills are:
ME skills: Impulse control, Self-awareness, compassion ( basic executive functions)
WE skills: Communication, Collaboration, Team-work
WHY skills: Curiosity, exploration, asking ‘why’
WILL skills: Grit, determination, intrinsic motivation (not working for external rewards)
WIGGLE skills: Action, Movement- children need to move to create. Remaining sedentary kills creativity
WOBBLE skills: Adaptability. Accept failure goes hand in hand with success. Learn to rise and fall.
WHAT–IF skills: Creativity, out-of-the-box thinking.
Role of Parents
Based on childhood studies, these critical skills can be developed very early in life. The first 5-6 years of a child’s life is when the brain goes through intense activity; making powerful neural connections. To exploit this intense neural activity, children must be provided with well thought out, rich experiences- experiences that stimulate the QI skills that Dr. Laura Jana describes. Simple chores like organizing their room, washing dishes, choosing a meal, baking, role playing, playing board games with friends can all help in the process.
Schools alone cannot ensure a student acquires all these skills.
Pandemic – a perfect case study
With the pandemic, human beings have learned to expect the unexpected. It has forced the world to recalibrate itself. Communication has increasingly become technology driven. People have had to learn to find newer means of existence, asking for greater creativity. They had to learn to endure despite failures and losses. Ingenuity and resourcefulness had to be learned.
Nobody can guarantee what the future will look like, but our children can certainly be fortified with competencies that are a key to a successful existence.
About the Author
Farozan Warsi is an Educator and Author who has an interest in child psychology and theology. She draws her inspiration from the hundreds of children she has taught and guided – specifically her three grandchildren. Her writing is an homage to them. Through her writing at Farozans Book Shelf she hopes to ignite a curiosity about Islam amongst this most thoughtful generation. With this specific work, she aims to exemplify the mysteries of Islam through a fun-filled genre. She comes from generations of writers and educators. She lives in Canada with her spouse where she paints pictures with her words.