Two years ago, the Economist published a special report calling lifelong learning an “economic imperative” and arguing that “technological change demands stronger and more continuous connections between education and employment.”
Today’s children will not have the luxury of thinking about ‘getting an education’ as something they do once and then benefit from for the rest of their lives. The pace of change is such that a university degree can be out of date before it’s been completed and all manner of jobs, from acupuncturist to accountant, taxi driver to teacher, demand the regular adoption and mastery of new skills and technologies just to keep up, never mind move forward.
So what does this mean for children still in school today? What tools do they need to become lifelong learners?
The Creative Tools
Children are born with an incredibly strong drive to learn and to improve. Babies learn rapidly because they are curious and enthusiastic, creative and imaginative. They observe and mimic, and they ask “what if”.
By definition, lifelong learning is learning beyond the school years, and that means that no one is going to sit you down and tell you what to learn and when. A school teacher’s job is to deliver specific content; a student’s job is to learn that content. But modern employers are unlikely to lay things out that clearly. It’s usually up to the employee to learn on the job, fill in gaps, keep up with change and new trends. To achieve this, it’s critical that the childhood traits of curiosity, enthusiasm, creativity, and imagination are taken into adulthood.
But that in itself is not enough.
The learning tools
- Focus & concentration
The drive to improve is only useful if you also have the ability to gain new knowledge, and to gain new knowledge you need some key skills. The earlier children develop these skills, the better.
These skills are fluency in reading, which first requires a good vocabulary; fluency in maths, which first requires mastery of the four operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; and the ability to focus and concentrate for extended periods.
With the drive to improve and these skills under their belt, your child can attain the true key to lifelong learning – the art of integration.
Putting it all together
- Problem solving
The final stage involves understanding what you’ve learnt and what it means in the context of your life and work; using that knowledge to solve problems; and applying the solutions to real-life situations. In this way, you integrate the new knowledge into your way of working so that you don’t face the same problems again.
And then, crucially, the cycle continues. Your child’s curiosity or creativity will drive the desire to improve further; the key skills that were embedded in childhood will allow them to gain new knowledge; and they will transform and apply that knowledge in their work and in their life, taking themselves to the next level of success.
Back to reality
But enough of the theory. The real question is, what do you as a parent need to be doing now to ensure that your children can survive, and hopefully thrive, in the future world of work?
I advise you to take a moment to ask yourself, hand-on-heart, three questions:
- Does my child love learning?
- Can my child focus easily?
- Does my child remember things?
If you can’t honestly answer yes to all three then something needs to change, and we are here to help.
At Exeter Tuition Centre we have been teaching children to learn how to learn since 2004 – well before the world started talking about lifelong learning as a requirement for modern life. We know how to guide children toward a better future, and if you’re worried about your child’s future, we would love to help you.
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