Educating for the Future

This past week I made the exciting decision to travel to Bali in November to present the UCare Education model to all the educators gathering there to co-create Genius school , an Entrepreneur Institute innovation to fire up a 21 st century revolution in Education.

Fast forward to 2030 and the children who started school in 2017 will need to be just as skilled in creativity, critical thinking (recognising patterns, consequential thinking), and empathy – all core emotional intelligence competencies – as they are in literacy, numeracy and technology.

Mark Scott, the secretary of the New South Wales Department of Education, says it is virtually impossible to accurately predict the jobs of the future, but one certainty is that schools will need to prepare the next generations of students for a world that will be dominated by artificial intelligence and robotics. Mr Scott gave a speech this week to the Trans-Tasman Business Circle where he outlined publicly his ideas for the future of education. It makes for fascinating listening – he says that children are now facing a more uncertain future than at any other time since the Industrial Revolution, some 250 years ago.

In Mr Scott’s words: “”We are good at assessing literacy and numeracy skills and students’ depth of content knowledge in core subjects. These will continue to be critical. But what of these broader skills and attributes, such as resilience, that idea of the growth mindset, the capacity to fail and try again, to persevere?” Mr Scott went on to say that: “Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics and automation were transforming the way people live and work, but the changes would also bring new opportunities. It will become increasingly important … that our students are able to engage with the ethical questions that they raise for all of us – the privacy implications, issues of transparency and fairness and the potential for in-built biases in the algorithms that are making automated decisions that affect our lives.”

These are questions being raised by researchers and thought leaders around the globe right now, and countries such as Finland are starting to get it right. Sadly in many Western countries, we have been heading in the exact opposite direction with more standardised testing, more pressure on students with overwhelming homework and extra-curricular loads.  The starting school age for students has been made even younger.

As mentioned in the Six Seconds case for EQ in Education: “Most educators enter their profession with a belief that education should develop the whole child, including their social and emotional development, but the direction of education in the past few decades has shifted to a focus on test scores and the development of technical skills to the exclusion of the whole person.” *

As a Practitioner of Emotional Intelligence with the Six Seconds organisation I am passionate about bringing the important work we are doing at UCare Education to the attention of change makers in Education. Our amazing team of EQ Coaches across Australia work with teachers, students and parents, introducing them to some high level neuroscience and an experiential understanding of emotions and how to better navigate them. The skills Mark Scott is talking about are mostly emotional intelligence (EQ) competencies and students involved in our Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs develop outcomes associated with these competencies such as resilience, tenacity, perseverance and positive academic mindsets. Researchers at Six Seconds have shown that students who develop their SEL competencies will have higher scores for good health, relationship quality, personal achievement, life satisfaction, and self-efficacy**

It blows my mind that whilst schools today produce comprehensive academic report cards, they are not measuring their students’ EQ. The SEI YV is a statistically rigorous measure of a student’s EQ, and is simple to administer through a 15 minute survey. The information gleaned in this report can be life changing for that student.

EQ skills are learnable with the right intervention, and it has brought tears to our eyes to receive feedback from students in our UCare Education programs who for the first time in their life are feeling socially connected and optimistic. In the words of a year 7 girl: “This program is really good and turns you into a whole new person. It makes you think about who you really are – I would highly recommend it.”

So what does UCare Education hope to bring to the change makers in Education in 2017?

  • Start measuring every students EQ profile and identify their room for growth
  • Integrate a holistic Six Seconds approach to experientially integrating SEL into your curriculum
  • Infuse more play and curiosity into the day – let the students’ experience quiet time
  • Build Mindfulness into the day
  • Plan for more weekend camps and outdoor experiences

Critical EQ skills will prepare our future generations to make ethical decisions, and to become wholehearted leaders with the curiosity and innovative thinking they’re going to need to compete with machines. A child born in 2017 has a very exciting life ahead, but we need to wake up and truly start preparing that child for what will be their reality.

Cheers Alison

* Brackett, M. A. (2015). Emotional intelligence: Our best hope for safe, caring, and effective schools. New Haven, CT: Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence

** Jensen, Fieldeldey-van Dijk, Freedman, 2012