From the time our children show remote signs of the ability to learn, we start our LIFE’S PROJECT of stuffing them with information and knowledge about various things. We start with Alphabets and move on to shapes, colours, numbers etc etc. We believe that our children need all the information and knowledge to be successful in this world. And then google.com was invented. And the whole game has changed. However, we are all still stuck in our archaic ways.
Today, every child knows that you can type almost anything into the search box and get multiple answers to the question. All of a sudden, knowledge or information is not the treasure of a few people who can choose whether they want to share it or not. Today, we are in the age of “open source”. People are sharing answers to everything online every day that the world can choose to search for and use.
But, there is a catch. We actually have an opposite problem today. There is too much knowledge and information, and many times they come from dubious sources. Today’s student is not starved for knowledge. Instead he is bombarded with too much information and the big task now is to wade through all of that and have the ability to pick out what makes sense and is relevant to him or her.
Therefore, in the 21st century, as parents, we need to stop focussing on archaic skills that our parents used to focus on like good handwriting, memorizing geographical facts, mugging equations. All of those things are now available at the touch of the button. Our education needs to focus on how our children can sharpen their skills in critical thinking, creative thinking, collaborating, communicating, social skills, leadership skills, entrepreneurial abilities etc.
But the problem is that most main stream schools are still stuck in our ancient curriculum and therefore as parents, we have to take the responsibility. So, what can we do?
Encourage questions: We tend to focus on whether our children have the answers. But how about checking if our children are asking the right questions when learning? Sometimes it is important to ask the right questions for you to be lead to the right answers.
Encourage Collaboration: Nobody has all the answers. The successful person in the 21st century is he who knows how to collaborate with different experts and pull together knowledge and apply it to solve problems. Therefore, encourage team playing in your child. Encourage collaborative work with his peers. Enroll him for soft skill courses in communication that would develop his ability to put forth his point of view without being aggressive, overbearing or abrasive.
Encourage Freedom: Give your children the freedom to experiment. The freedom to think outside the box. The freedom to fail. And then teach them to pick themselves up and try another approach again. Nothing great was every created in the first attempt.
With Technology changing the way we live, work and function every single day, there is no ‘one’ formula for success tomorrow. But helping your child cultivate the right attitude, more than the right knowledge will help them adapt fast and fluid to whatever the new world throws at them.