In 2019, the ways we communicate and socialize with each other, as well as the ways we work and play, are vastly different than they were ten years ago. Now fast forward eleven years to 2030 when our grade one students will be graduating from high school and imagine what the class of 2030 will need to be ‘life-ready’. Although it is impossible to know exactly what lies ahead, one thing is for certain; the world will be very different from what we parents experienced growing up and upon entering the workforce.
More research is being done in order to shed some light on how to prepare the class of 2030. Microsoft and McKinsey & Company Education Practice asked 2,000 students and 2,000 teachers across Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States for their thoughts and also reviewed 150 pieces of existing research and conducted 70 interviews with thought leaders in related education fields. The results may surprise you!
Continued advances in technology will cause automation to replace as many as 50% of jobs (Harnessing Automation for a future that works, 2017). This progressive automation of lower-skilled jobs, employer’s demands for workers with a balanced skill set, as well as student’s expectations to operate with autonomy and choice means that our education system needs to prepare students differently than it has in past.
Findings of the study indicate that new methodology is needed to ensure students develop the cognitive and social-emotional skills needed to succeed both personally and professionally. The class of 2030 will need to deepen cognitive skills, especially in the areas of problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity. This has been talked about for some time now. The more surprising statistic is that 30-40 percent of jobs will require explicit social-emotional skills (What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages, 2017). Social-emotional skills include relationship building and self-awareness. Social and emotional learning (SEL) enhances the ability to integrate skills, attitudes and behaviours to deal effectively and ethically with everyday tasks and challenges.
Admittedly, in a study done by Microsoft, I found these results (the focus on SEL) fascinating. I had predicted that I would be reading about research that focused on technology and the merits of teaching our students coding, and the newer buzz words: artificial intelligence and mixed reality. Instead, the discussion was about the need for teachers, schools and education leaders to help students develop stronger social-emotional skills. Noteworthy is the link between well developed social-emotional skills and increased (11%) cognitive skills measured by academic achievement tests. According to McKinsey, student mindsets are twice as predictive of a student’s academic achievement as their home environment or demographic.
The key takeaway for educators and parents is that modern learning design needs to include SEL and center attention on the needs of the student. These designs include inquiry-based learning, project-based learning, and personalized learning. Student-centred teaching approaches give students more control to focus on topics that interest and motivate them. It also focuses on skills and practices that enable lifelong learning and provide opportunities to build social-emotional skills.