Yesterday, I wrote about my interview with Tom Segal at Rethink Education. Thinking about the conversations and articles I’ve read recently, I created five steps to prepare our kids for the future.
What is interesting about these five steps is that this advice can be used to strengthen your business or career. The world as we know it has changed the ability to adapt is crucial.
Non-Linear Interdisciplinary Learning
Involve your kids in activities and summer camps that offer opportunities for skill building similar to a college internship. Think sustainable business skills – sales, marketing, management, financial operations, delegation, strategy and wise decision making. Taking an idea and creating value requires all these skills.
In college, students learn the theories behind these skills yet have very little opportunity to practice the knowledge learned. Encourage your kids to volunteer at local charities events that are related to your son or daughter’s interest and passion.
We should allow our kids the ability to study interdisciplinary subjects such as engineering and health care or computer programming and art history. Schedule a summer filled with right and left brain activities such as art camp followed by a coding or math camp. Think about patterns: music / math and science / art.
By engaging both sides of the brain, we gain the ability to see patterns and relationships that most individuals would miss. Ideas, patterns and new ways of seeing the world build an amazing foundation for creative critical thinking.
Embrace your child’s interest and passion to help them develop their talent. Everyone learns when they are engaged in their passion. Passions are the foundation and motivation for our pursuits in life and business.
Our talents provide us with the key stepping stone to building a strong and successful career or business. We will spend countless hours pursuing our passions and perfecting our talents. Any talent can be adapted into a future career and I believe we need to help our kids harnessing and build upon these talents early.
Pathbrite is a cool online platform for young students who are exploring ideas. The platform offers feedback and mentors to help direct students in a path that is aligned with their dreams and passions.
Learning to Code
The emphases on learning to code is a hot topic right now, both Mashable and VentureBeat recently had articles about coding. Just like math and music, coding is another language that will we continue to use now and in the future.
The VentureBeat article discusses the difference between being tech literate and tech illiterate. I believe technology is a double edge sword that individuals who possess strong tech and problem solving skills will continue to secure high paying contract work and employment.
We all learned Office and coding is the next must have tech skill. Mashable created a list of the top ten online resources for learning code. Code Academy is a cool platform that is designed for younger students.
High school seniors should know how to code before they enter college. Three years ago, I learned WordPress and believe we should be teaching all Junior High students how to create and build a WordPress blog and website.
Teaching Kids to Cross-Pollinate
Everyone should spend time cross pollinating, exploring and learning beyond our immediate circle of interest. Successful businesses and professionals understand the benefit of cross-pollinating. Sharing ideas and feedback across different groups, benefits everyone. Creativity grows when we are exposed to new ideas.
Here is an example of cross-pollination. Your son plays trumpet in the high school band, he’s good yet would like to excel and deepen his talent base. To help him build his talent, offer jazz guitar classes with tickets for sympathy performance or classical concert.
All activities are related to music yet each offer different perspective. Building upon another person’s creation is hard as you must keep the essence of the song thus requiring a different level of critical thinking skills. Improvising focuses your brain to think quickly and to be in tune with what you are doing. Memorizing facts doesn’t work for creating music on the fly.
Figure It Out – Learning How to Solve Problems
If I had a dollar for every time I told my son “figure it out”, I could have purchased a new car and traveled to Europe for a month. Technology has made our day- to- day tasks easy and provided a cool way to spend our free time think Angry Birds.
Technology has made learning some subjects easy like history – you can look up any event or person online. Yet somewhere along the way we lost focus on teaching strong problem solving skills.
When my son becomes stuck or has difficulty solving a problem, I tell him to figure it out. Solve the problem. He always says – we have a problem and then I ask him did it solve the problem. I want to know how he solved the problem not that we have one.
Problem solving is a skill that is acquired over time and takes practice. Life experiences also teaches us valuable problem solving skills. Standardized testing, bubbling in the answer does not solve problems.
Solving problems is hard work, it takes patience and skill. We need to give our kids time to think and learn how to solve a variety of different problems. Yes, I know problem solving is slow, hard and will not win you the “Parent of the Year” award. Yet, the reward will be when your son or daughter has acquired this very important skill.
We are living in the middle of an exciting and chaotic crossroad as our world adapts to new technologies. Many of the steps mentioned can be used by businesses, startups and professionals seeking to stay relevant in our rapidly changing economy.