Given my coaching work and experience, what are my thoughts on school education for the digital age? My client organizations employ young people described as ‘Millenials’ and ‘Generation Y’. What can we learn from their experiences?
Any discussion around transformation leadership and the digital age invites a look at the young generations coming into our economy, right now and in the near future. If rapid and unrelenting change is ‘the new normal’ facing us, what if our children could grow into adults who confidently and courageously re-invent themselves regularly and with less drama?
I am also a father, and I want to give my children the best chance to thrive and enjoy the world they become responsible for. This world, to ‘oldies’ like me, seems to be spinning out of balance. I remember clearly how my beliefs around how the world works, fuelled by a long history of my personal schooling experience, and supported by ‘societal opinion’ (which I like to call ‘group think’), went unchallenged for many years. Even now I am regularly aware of this legacy, which I carry along with me, and which gets in my parenting way from time to time. The world has and is changing – and quickly!
When we were gifted children, I acted on my beliefs and my stories. My observation is that, as parents, in the absence of ‘a universal parenting guide’, we all do that. For a while all seemed well. But slowly I was waking up and, being naturally curious, began to question my own stories. This is hard work, with excuses everywhere – anyone of you parents out there ever harbored thoughts or uttered words such as ‘this is how I was brought up…’, or the more gentile version ‘please do as I say, I know from experience what is best for you ….’? Fortunately the confluence of a father’s instincts, of the boys’ spirits starting to reveal themselves as unique, different, and immensely vital (read: strongly energetic!), and my work coaching adults – young and old – led to insights and feelings and a deep sense of inner knowing, which I could no longer subdue.
To cut a long story short, as parents we asked a simple question, which I am sure many parents ask: how can we help to prepare our children for their future (instead of our past). A world we cannot accurately foresee. From coaching teens in schools, the answers, as to what might serve them well, and which we felt intuitively as parents, were strongly backed by what I learned from my corporate and executive clients:
- A strong personal sense of purpose to drive self-confidence, hope and perseverance
- Strong passion, which is inherently individually defined and naturally plays to and off personal strengths
- The ability to connect with people through respect, integrity, positive intent, team spirit and trust in human goodness and human one-ness
- A curious, courageous, playful and open disposition to nurture adaptability, entrepreneurial tendency and hope
- The courage to question what feels wrong, building moral resilience
- A sense of wonder and awe, and often a sense of connectedness
- A healthy balance of understanding and fulfillment of, what I refer to as the 4 basic human needs: mind, body, heart and soul (feel free to replace these words with similies, which resonate with you – there are many). And, in my opinion most importantly, individually developed practices in each of these key areas for human resilience – the key antidote to excessive stress
I would love to hear your own experience here – please feel free to share.
So, using these insights as our pointers, all we had to do was re-train ourselves as parents, and find a suitable schooling system… Suffice it to say, that the journey of re-training ourselves as parents is ongoing – we find ourselves students again, with our children as our frequent teachers!
And the school… well, everything came together when we decided to move geographically, and we chose their school with care, and our boys found themselves happy. Not ‘I get everything I want’ happy – that is not reality. Let me be specific and share our experience as parents, and, what I hear my corporate clients list as qualities they wish for in their ideal employees)…
- Excited to go to school (excited to go to work)
- Stimulated and engaged (engaged at work)
- Learning and performing far beyond statutory curricular requirements (exceeding job requirements or performance expectations)
- Growing in so many ways (all 4 human dimensions) (work-life balance and resilience), and
- Feeling deeply supported and appreciated
Like many educators, researchers (see the inspirational talks on this topic) and parents, we are excited about what appears, at least to me, as an unprecedented sense of urge and willingness to challenge and re-invent and even re-discover teaching, educational drivers and systems, which are more aligned with our children’s future needs. I would love to hear your views and experiences, and will be happy to chat.