If you sometimes worry about what the future holds for your child/children, you’re not alone.
In Australia, the rising cost of housing, tertiary education and other costs of living, cause many parents to worry about the best options for setting their children up to succeed in life.
Being one of those parents is what lead me on the journey to establish Curious Kids’ Science.
My daughter started school in 2016 and my son will commence in 2020. Some might say that I have been a little neurotic in my recent obsession to determine the skills that they will need and the educational outcomes that will be most likely to set them up as successful adults.
Time will tell.
In the meantime, I’m here to share with you what I have found so far.
In 2014 the Office of the Chief Scientist of Australia (OCS) (no, until recently, I didn’t know there was such a thing either!) indicated that 75 per cent of Australia’s fastest growing jobs required STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills: http://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/STEM_AustraliasFuture_Sept2014_Web.pdf.
Unfortunately, despite having made this finding, the original report does not actually set out what those skills really are. I assumed that the jobs referred to have certain subject-specific knowledge requirements. But the paper made me wonder what the other, more generic, STEM skills might be.
Thankfully, in 2015, the OCS followed up with an investigation into what attributes employers were looking for in their employees who were engaged in STEM activities.
The top 5 skills that employers across a broad range of industries wanted in their STEM employees were:
- The ability to learn on the job
- Critical thinking skills
- Complex problem-solving
- Creative problem-solving, and
- Interpersonal skills.
When I looked at this list of skills what struck me most is that not a single one of them can be tested through a standardised assessment such as NAPLAN. I also felt, for that reason, the skills are unlikely to be emphasised or explicitly developed in our current educational model.
The question is, what can we do to help our children to develop these skills outside of the formal education setting?
I don’t think that there is a silver bullet or a single answer that is right for all children. The solution will be multi-faceted.
In my next entry, I will be talking about the things that I have decided to do at home to foster the development of these critical life skills!
I’d love to hear from you if you are already doing things with your kids to support their development of these skills. Share your stories in the comments below!