Sun | Sep 23, 2018

Dear Parents, Welcome to the Real World

Published:Sunday | August 12, 2018 | 12:28 AMBrittany Singh Williams

Modern education is all about empowering students with transferable skills that will hold up to a rapidly changing world. The current cohort of students is comprised of children from both Generation Z (born between 1992-2009) and Generation Alpha (born after 2010). Gen Z and Gen Alpha students learn and think differently than Millennials. They are influenced by the fast- changing landscape that surrounds them, making them more global, social, visual and technological.

Well-adjusted Gen-Z and Alpha children have expertly integrated technology into their daily lives. They are better multitaskers, and able to handle various software applications at one instance, however studies have found that they often have shorter attention spans. For them, making use of and analysing information quickly is crucial in order to adapt and to function. The delivery of information to this cohort of students must therefore be relevant, targeted, innovative and creative.

Technology is a key to preparing these students for their futures.  We must become more technology savvy in order to relate to our children and to help them navigate it responsibly. As adults, we often think of technology as merely for entertainment and socialising, but for Gen Z and Alpha children, it’s a key to unlocking creativity and self-expression. Let us encourage them to utilise technology in productive ways as a tool to teach, to organise, for content delivery, for assignments and project research.

Ensuring our children are able to respond to rapid changes and the handling of new relevant information will require engagement in an ecosystem that goes beyond the traditional classroom.  

The idea of expanding and creating new kinds of teaching and learning environments is not a new one but it has become necessary for today’s parents to be more deliberate in helping children process the vast and ever evolving world through various forms of experiences.

Our children live in a dynamic world, and we should ensure that they grasp the depth of it. We would better serve them by exposing them to activities that will enhance knowledge, develop creativity and a healthy understanding of it while discovering and showcasing their talents and interests. This will give them a better perspective of where they are positioned and their own value.

Studies suggest that Gen Z children learn best by doing — creating things, visualising and connecting their classroom experience to the larger world around them. For example, give your child a greater understanding of civic literacy and human development by getting involved in a community volunteer programme. This may help them to see and develop a new appreciation for people in their community who they may not have otherwise engaged with. Seek out after school programmes that challenge and sharpen skills that are relevant today and the 4C’s of the National Standards Curriculum — (Creativity, Communication, Critical Thinking and Collaboration).

It is very important for us to take note of the curiosities of our children. Some with broader interests have been discouraged or sidelined in school and at home. This practise can adversely impact them and the future work force to have a singular skill set and make for a shallow pool of talent, limiting our national potential. Let us instead encourage their gifts and talents. If they enjoy cooking — let them cook; if it’s painting — let them paint!

 This is a time of transition for all of us as we move towards the Primary Exit Profile (PEP). It requires a change of approach for all of us as parents, guardians and child-centred practitioners. As we move away from relying mostly on rote classroom learning to the new, we each play a part in making learning relevant and transferable to modern trends. The classroom has already expanded far outside the four walls of a school building to the wide world and the web. Let’s better prepare our children for the real world!

- ​Brittany Singh Williams is founder of SPARK Education Ltd and senior adviser o the Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information