Preparing Students For An Unknown Future

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One of the challenges of education today is indeed preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist. The pace of technological change and the rapidly evolving global economy have led to an increasing need for students to be equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in an unpredictable and rapidly changing world. One way schools address this challenge is by emphasizing skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. These skills are considered “future-proof” because they will be valuable in any field and can be applied to many jobs.

However, as we continue to navigate an era of innovation, the importance of social-emotional learning and people’s skills has been significantly evident. While the digital age has brought unprecedented opportunities for connectivity, it has also amplified the need for possessing soft skills. People with soft skills demonstrate not only effective communication, teamwork, adaptability, problem-solving, and conflict resolution but also empathy, kindness, compassion, integrity, and other values. SEL also contributes to fostering positive mental health outcomes. Imagine a world where AI is taking over jobs; individuals with these skills cannot be replicated by machines.

Student perceptions of their learning styles become even more important when Social and Emotional Learning, which has at its core the development of self-awareness, empathy, and effective communication skills, is taken into consideration. We had the privilege of sitting down with a diverse group of students to discuss their perspectives on what helps them learn better at school, considering the emphasis on skills and values. The outcomes were both enlightening and inspiring. Students are at the forefront of knowing what improves their educational experience when it comes to effective learning.

The importance of having a support system in place was a recurring subject throughout our chats. One student remarked, “There is always someone who can help you understand the content.” This emphasizes how crucial it is to have accessible mentors, classmates, and teachers who can offer explanations and direction when learning becomes challenging. This is a feeling rather than something that can be learned. Because they recognize that in order for kids to appreciate studying, they must first feel comfortable and form strong relationships with everyone around them, these teachers not only bring excitement but also establish a great learning atmosphere.

Students also emphasized the value of learning beyond the confines of traditional classrooms. “We learn new things from the wider community,” a student shared. Bridging the gap between textbooks and real-life applications reminds us of the importance of hands-on learning and connecting students with the world outside the school. One student points out that learning becomes more captivating when the subject matter is relevant and relatable. Helping students be socially aware and engaging with real-world scenarios, inviting guest speakers, and involving them in community projects can broaden their horizons and demonstrate their learning relevance.

The concept of connection emerged in relation to the broader community and the learning experiences themselves. Several students highlighted the significance of events, exhibitions, and project-based learning as powerful tools for reinforcing their understanding and taking responsibility for their own learning. A cherished surprise element was that students looked forward to challenges. “It helps me learn new ways of doing things and thinking differently.” They are self-aware of their potential and capabilities. To them, failure is just a word, not an end. However, when we dig deeper, we realize that such motivation is instilled in them by the teachers and those around them.

Educational practices incorporating SEL in their daily curriculum and heeding the voices of their students can create environments that not only promote academic excellence but also empower students to become well-rounded, confident individuals ready to take on the challenges of the future.

Lavesa Devnani is an experienced professional in educational leadership, management and teaching. She currently serves as the Principal at the Global Jaya School in Indonesia . With over 21 years of experience in education internationally, she remains committed to engaging and empowering students.

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