Here we are at the second episode of the reflections born from participation in the Eta Beta radio program.
Last week, in Reflections on the future of our children. Which world of work awaits them? , I addressed the topic of labor market changes; today I try to put forward some hypotheses on the type of formation that will be able to prepare our children more easily for a future with uncertain contours.
The operation I’m about to do is a bit of a gamble: how can you prepare someone for a world that you do not know? This must lead us to caution: futurology is not a science. We can therefore only start from today.
The uncertainty, then, is accentuated by the longtime of investment in education. In the educational and training field it’s always like this: invest today and, if all goes well, reap the benefits in twenty years (or maybe more). For this reason, the investment is uncertain, both on the supply side and on the demand side.
On the supply side, in fact, governments, schools, universities and teachers do not always make choices based on the current market, let alone on the future (for teachers, in particular, teaching millennials is a task not a little, as I wrote in Education for the 21st century).
Also on the demand side, the uncertainty is maximum: a young person who chooses a faculty today will enjoy the fruits of his choice in three to five years or more, when the economic and professional context could be changed. The investment in education of parents who choose school for their young children is even longer.
However, the demand side has an advantage: the interests it brings into play are much bigger and deeper. The student has (or should have) his future at heart; parents, in most cases, keep their children. For this reason, at the end, the demand for education seems almost more important than the relative offer.
Challenge for challenge, then, I choose the most difficult one: that of looking at tomorrow from the point of view of today’s parent. Waiting for your answers, to be included in the blog in the form of a comment, I risk mine.
What to aim for in terms of training? What are the knowledge or skills that cannot be ignored? Here are the ones that seem most important to me:
- Have sound basic skills. Children are/will be advantaged if they can write well (and, in this age is not little!) and if they have mathematical skills (including at least some notion of Statistics and Probability, to make it easier to read the reality);
- Know English as Italian. With all due regard to Brexit and Trump and also to simultaneous translators (which we will have on telephones and which will allow us to speak with other people in two different languages), English will still be, for a long time, modern Latin. Most of the web content (bad or good) is in English. Knowing English as Italian is therefore crucial for not being semi-illiterate. In an integrated global economy, even small businesses need to dialogue with the world. On the subject I refer to the many posts I have written. Early English can be introduced into the lives of children, choose a school with “strengthened English”, bilingual school or an international school), based on third parties, such as nannies or au pairs. Those who are bilinguals are asked whether to become a non-native speaker parent and then there are Internet sites that help and a plethora of summer camps: in London or the USA, or even academic courses for children and young people);
- Look at technology with a long look. Technologies change: for this reason it is necessary to observe them with interest but also with skepticism. Even writing, as I was able to write, is a techno; at the time of Homer, there was orality. Children and young people are immersed in today’s digital technology, but will they be equally adept with tomorrow’s technology?
- Be prepared in the material subjects like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education. Our country – like others – suffers from a lack of training in scientific subjects, so the preparation in these disciplines can be an advantage, especially if it is the result of a personal interest. So if you have a daughter or a child who has a propensity for science – technology subjects, give her / him the tools to use her in her free time: a microscope, a telescope, an anatomy book or the Rubik’s cube;
- Know what you like. It remains a trivial but crucial fact: the most important thing that kids can do while growing up is to understand what they like. We must do what we like and do it well because it will be the one that succeeds. Not all engineers are born; there is also a place for those with a more humanistic-literary vocation. Even knowing how to write stories is good: the world needs narration, the technical-scientific subjects need to be disseminated, and marketing needs storytelling: this is how traditional knowledge can bear fruit in the modern world as well. The moral is simple: for those who want to do there is always a place.
Rachel Kingston is a professional educator and has mastered the teaching of STEM subjects at college and university level. Besides her core job and passion in writing blogs on future education trends and related fields, Rachel is also a part of a professional assignment writing community catering all the major academic and industrial disciplines for students and professionals worldwide.