It will soon begin. School newsletters will be flying home filled with educational jargon explaining plans for the new year. However incomprehensible the eduspeak may be, it does serve a purpose: it's anchored to the latest educational initiatives and tied into the instructional programming for your children.
Lately, The Council of Ministers Of Education of Canada has said that education must address the "rapidly changing political, social, economic, technological and ecological landscapes. "
As a result, parents will see global competencies and transferable skills highlighted as educational goals across our country.
What are global competencies?
Global competencies are those learning skills that are considered part of "deep learning." There are two main components: critical thinking and problem solving skills.
A very simple example is giving a child a new toy and rather than explaining or showing them exactly how to use it, allowing the child to explore the toy for themselves. Problem solving skills tie into this same example. Your child will look for ways to use the toy, identify things it can and cannot do and find a way to play with the toy. Often times your child will even find new uses for the toy.
Every time a child is able to explore, discover, think and learn for themselves, they learn to analyze, interpret information and develop the self-directed learning skills essential in today's world.
As parents, we too often seek to make it easier for our child. We don't want to see them struggle. Making life a little more challenging and standing back, as difficult as that may be, is a greater life lesson. Encourage, but don't do it for them.
What are transferable skills?
Transferable skills are, just as the name implies, skills that can be applied or transferred to many areas in our life. With an ever changing job market, the children of today will live an employment future far different in many ways from the present. The result is the need to acquire skills that can be applied to a variety of job opportunities.
The underlying theme in all transferable skills is resilience, that all-important social emotional learning attribute that enables us to cope with life's shifts and turns in a positive and hopeful way. Resilience is built incrementally over the years of childhood. It begins with instilling a sense of security and self-worth in your child.
Effective teamwork and leadership skills, along with organizational ability, are the basic markers for transferable skills, and are usually found on most job descriptions.
For your children, learning these skills happens in any number of ways inside and outside school. Examples are classroom projects, team sports, clubs, volunteerism; really anywhere they must work with others, make a commitment and stick it out.
Why these two terms?
Previous generations had a certain economic predictability about their future job prospects. They could aim for careers that required formal qualifications through specialized education, and become a lawyer, teacher or nurse. Another option with a more direct route to work was found in the manufacturing, trades and service industry.
Technology advancements and increased efficiencies have already changed the whole world of work. 3D buildings and online shopping are but two examples of the human workforce being affected by technology.
That insular world of a predictable, narrowly focused career path enjoyed by previous generations has given way to the "gig economy" for many of today's young adults. For them, it takes several contract, part time jobs to achieve some financial stability. Transferable skills are already a necessity.
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What can parents do to help their kids prepare for tomorrow?
There are several ways you can support these educational goals at home. Complexity and unpredictability in every area of our life are assured, and resilience with be a necessity. Cultivate that attribute in your kids. Talk to them about an adult work life that will require transferable skills and most likely involve several reincarnations and iterations. Give them opportunities to enhance their ability to explore, discover and create.
Change has always been a part of progress, and these adults of tomorrow will lead the way.