Future-proofing our children by teaching skills critical for success - Education Matters Magazine
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Future-proofing our children by teaching skills critical for success

After the black spot that was the last two years, the world feels like a different place and many teachers have been fundamentally rethinking where to put their educational focus.  Humanity is shifting rapidly and with this year’s Preps not graduating until 2034, what things do educators need to teach now for success in the future?

Marcus Veerman is an ex-Aussie teacher, now Founder and co-designer of the charity and social enterprise, Nudel Kart. It makes stimulating creativity spaces in mobile karts that can be instantly deployed in any space for an entire class.

He tells Education Matters that children will face a completely different world than the one their grandparents grew up in. He says we can’t just teach for the now but we need to help prepare children for a whole new future, which may seem far away, but because of the exponential speed of technological change, will be here but sooner than we think.

The good news is that research by the world economic forum (WEF) predicts that the most in-demand skills are in fact the skills that make us most human. WEF lists creativity, negotiation, problem solving, divergent thinking, EQ, decision making and social skills at the top of the list of future skills that will be essential in daily life and the workplace.

“As technology gets cheaper, faster and more sophisticated it will begin to gobble up any and all of the jobs and tasks that computers and robots do well,” says veerman. “So let’s let the robots do the jobs we didn’t want to do anyway and help humans do the things that humans do best.”

In other good news, creativity expert Dr Tim Patston says focussing on creativity 21st century skills is a win/win for now and the future… “future-ready children are more confident and have higher wellbeing as well as a solid bump in academic scores”.

“We are already starting to see two major shifts,” Veerman says.

One shift is that many industries like manufacturing, accounting, even farming, and so many other white- and blue-collar industries are being streamlined and automated and at the same time the second shift is an explosion of whole new genres of work in the creative and social spheres. It’s critical that schools challenge themselves to respond to these challenges.

“Let’s face it, most children’s understanding and use of technology is way ahead of the vast majority of teachers already so let’s focus on the fundamental areas where we can really add value to students,” he says.

So, what is the best way for children to learn these critical skills? And are educators actually able to shift student performance in these areas or are they more like ‘gifts’ or destiny?

Dr Tim Patston from the University of South Australia has been studying one of the most important STEM and future skills, creativity, for many years and his research shows that creativity is a skill that can be learnt through practice like any other skill.

“We have known that teaching and integrating creativity into the classroom has tangible benefits for a long time, but it just takes some time for this knowledge to make its way into daily education practice,” Patston says.

The team at Nüdel Kart have teamed up with Patston and other researchers like professor Anita Bundy (a loose parts play specialist and Occupational Therapist) to create the Nüdel Kart, creativity manuals and personal developments to accelerate the shift to learning these critical future skills.

The Nüdel Kart and its endless configurability can teach students through direct experience through its open-ended design. Dr Patston’s research has shown that the environment is essential in learning creativity and Nüdel Kart instantly transforms the classroom to a child-directed creative learning environment.

“Creativity flourishes in a more flexible environment,” says Patston.

About the size of a large shopping trolley and designed for up to 30 children, three to 12-year-olds, the Nüdel Kart (and the smaller Nüdel Rover) is designed to trust a child’s unstoppable urge to explore, experiment, and imagine.

In this environment the children naturally focus on creativity and the foundational STEM skills, including problem solving, innovation, invention, social skills and negotiation.

“It helps children to learn about the world around them and their place in it. When they are in deep, immersive and exploratory activity they are engaged, curious and experimental,” Veerman says.

“Nüdel resources are specifically designed to support children to solve the same problem in many different ways using different materials,” he says. Divergent thinking is a very important skill when trying to solve unfamiliar problems.”

At the end of the day, Veerman believes children are at their happiest when they are being creative which has the holistic benefit of building crucial future competence, wellbeing and social skills at the same time. “it’s a huge win/win for kids” he says.

Nudel Kart has created a free downloadable creativity manual to help teachers and schools up their creativity game and take advantage of the huge benefits in building these skills. Check it out at www.nudelkart.com/creativity

All profits from the sale of Nüdel karts goes to Playground Ideas, the charity that founded Nüdel Kart that supports around 700-1000 communities in 143 countries to build low-cost community play and learning spaces.

 

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