Featured on the Hong Kong Economic Journal (March 9, 2013)
I was recently in California where I spent a couple days in Silicon Valley. There’s an exciting buzz about that place because it’s the hotbed of great ideas. The likes of Google and Facebook have their bases there and they have revolutionized the way our world works and have inspired many young entrepreneurs to give their fresh ideas a go. Whilst on my trip, I visited The Tech Museum of Innovation, which was one of the highlights of my trip. We got to see how technology is helping create better games for people to play, ways for people to live and inventions for people to use. Some of the highlights of my visit included creating my own roller coaster using computers that would tell me whether my G-force was too great on some spins; ‘visiting’ the moon on Google’s Liquid Galaxy that allows you to visit anywhere on earth with the click of a button thanks to Google Earth; and seeing how supercapacitors can be charged a million times for use as batteries before being discarded! With minds like those in Silicon Valley, I’m believing for the world to become a better place.
And whilst there, I read tech magazines that gave updates about the newest things going on in the industry. I read this article where 3 boys between the ages of 10 and 12, spent their summer holiday creating a camp for their friends that would teach their friends computer programming! I didn’t even know what a computer was when I was that age and now kids are teaching others kids how to use it for programming! I’m amazed at the talent of people in this world.
But what this whole experience made me realize is that the world that our children will live in is very different from the one we live in now. When I was in high school, it was a luxury to have a mobile phone; now it’s a common occurrence. When I was in college, everyone wanted to be an investment banker or lawyer, now more and more people I know want to be entrepreneurs. The world is changing at a pace that is faster than we can imagine and the question then for educators is this: how can we prepare our children for a future we don’t yet know about?
I would like to propose this: that what we should educate our children in 2 things: 1) the things that prepare them for the changing world and 2) the foundational qualities that are unchanging.
In preparing them for the changing world, we must equip our children to be flexible to change and creative in problem solving. It will no longer work to give children textbooks and have them regurgitate information; children need to learn to problem solve, communicate effectively, think critically and be creative in how they face new situations.
But I believe above all, we need to lay in them the foundational qualities that are unchanging. No matter what the world becomes, some character traits will remain essential as the ingredients of success. Responsibility, perseverance, respect, compassion…these unchanging traits are just as essential today as they will be in years to come.
No matter what the world becomes and how technology evolves, I believe that people who are responsible to their word and duties, people who persevere and don’t give up, people who show respect to themselves and others, people who show care and compassion to others, will still be ones who thrive.
In preparing our children for their future, foresight is necessary. We all want what is best for our children and we want them to succeed when they grow up. We’re not just helping our children pass their next exam, get to the next grade or to their next school. We need to equip them to succeed in life. But preparation begins now.
In helping them prepare for an uncertain future, let’s equip and empower them with the unchanging qualities that are certain to help them thrive – sound character traits and a strong value system.