The school shoes are shined, the uniforms clean and ironed. The new year of school smiles are sparkly and refreshed. This year, my daughter Olivia starts year 8 with aspirations to be an author, artist and an activist. My son Roman starts year 6 with aspirations to one day play soccer for Manchester United, and a backup plan to be a Scientist – he specifically wants to invest his time inventing a way to teleport from one era to another. And my baby, Alannah starts year 4 and her heart is set on being a singer. They are all excited about the New Year, albeit apprehensive on topics ranging from reconnecting with friends, to how they will like their teachers, to how they will perform in subjects like Math and English.
In this data driven world, how do we equip our children with the skills they will need for their future careers. As parents where should our time be devoted to support the needs of our children?
Here are the skills I am focused on this year with my three little inspirations.
1. Curiosity: I have been asked everything from the simple mathematical equations to the uncomfortable questions pertaining to biology and relationships right through to the questions that just keep you stumped. The latest is “how many Lego pieces would be needed to build a life sized replica of the Sydney Opera Bridge (for the record, if you know the answer could you please let me know!!). My answer is always the same “you know, I am not entirely sure, but how do you think we could find out”. Enabling and encouraging curiosity is a gift to our children. In this data driven world, effective corporate teams will require a generation of people, who are curious to learn, adapt and change. Cultures will be built based on curiously and a constant state of learning.
2. Open: To new ideas and new opportunities. Really for our children this means encouraging our children to try different subjects, be open to success and just as open to failure, key attributes needed to create a future generation of Entrepreneurs. When on holidays a few years ago, I watched as my timid children flourished from timid children, to children in the middle of the reef on a banana boat squealing with delight. In a safe environment, they were encouraged to step out of their comfort zone and try new things. If they fell off the boat, they merely needed to pop themselves back on again as there would always be someone to go back and give them a supportive helping hand. In the real world, the school is a safe environment for our kids to try new subjects and new activities, succeed or fail quickly and bounce back to the next learning adventure.
3. Embrace technology as an enabler to decision making and collaboration : There is no doubt that in a data driven world, where technology now rapidly has the ability to understand, reason, adapt and learn (this is called our cognitive era!), our decision making is continuously augmented by technology. The ability to test theories, intuition and gut feel with data lead facts is a key enabler to business and individual success. Encouraging our children to leverage technology in every aspect of their education is critical to their long term success. My children leverage technology to search for content and to create content. They are rapidly leveraging mobile apps to support basic decisions like what to wear that day (thankyou weather channel!) through to what exercises they could do for the day (blogilates is our favourite exercise app at the moment), to what would be better food choices (Bupa food switch app is awesome!). My next plan is to teach my eldest daughter to use Watson Analytics to help her create insights for our high school projects – but that is another future story. Encouraging our children to develop the ability to learn and adapt constantly to new technologies, at a rapid pace is critical in ensuring that we are empowering our children to have the ability and means to continue to build solutions which will help society develop and grow. Whether this is by teaching our children to code, or teaching them to augment their learning by leveraging computers, mobile apps and gamification, either way, they will benefit from this opportunity.
4. Passion and purpose: Above all, education is an amazing opportunity for our children to explore their passion and purpose in a fun, inspiring and stimulating environment, surrounded by friends and leaders who care for them. And with the love of their family, that they can succeed, they can fail fast; they can try new subjects and new ways of finding solutions to problems, and keep moving forward. And as they do this all, they love and are loved, they experience joy and disappointment, they study and work hard in the classroom, and they balance this with rest, relaxation, fun and laughter.
So to Olivia, Roman and Alannah – and to all the beautiful children stepping back into another year of school, go out there and find your wings. In the safe surrounds of school, it is not just about the traditional subjects listed on your school curriculum – it is about the inspiring journey of learning for now and the future.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Michelle Zamora is a Marketing Leader with a passion for business strategy, data, content, customer insights and engagement, and developing awesome talent.