By Daniel Curry 

All parents want their child’s school to fully prepare them for a successful future. But what does that look like in practice? What skills do we need to teach children? There is a distinct difference between knowledge and skills, and top schools in Gurgaon understand the importance of both.

Information used to be a static and scarce commodity. Now it is ubiquitous – only as far away as your phone. Children need to learn skills that will help them navigate information and apply what they learn. Furthermore, our understanding of science and technology is increasing rapidly. The kinds of jobs available in the future will rely on adaptability to a changing environment.

Skills can be taught and practiced. The best schools create opportunities for students to develop and hone their skills. The top skills to teach are based on what we see emerging in the world of work already and make good employees.

Ability to do research

With so much information, one important skill is research. This is the ability to sift through mountains of information with a critical eye and mind, developing a complete picture of the issues at hand. It involves succinctly summarizing information and making sense of the chaos.

Ability to apply what has been learned

With that research, one must be able to apply what has been learned to find solutions. Application of knowledge from a variety of disparate subject areas is needed to solve problems. The more practice students have in tackling complex problems, the better they are at it. Top schools that offer problem based learning give that opportunity to hone those skills.

To operate in situations where there is no right answer

There should be a scientific approach to dissecting problems and looking for possible solutions for each area. Students should be able to operate in ambiguous situations where there is no one right answer. This mirrors what most adults face every day – looking for good solutions that address the problems or challenges at hand.

Ability to collaborate and negotiate

Since most people don’t work in a vacuum, students must have the skill of collaboration. They need practice in teamwork, sharing their specific skills, knowledge and creativity with others to create better solutions. This involves give and take – negotiation of a sort – to recognize the strengths and good ideas presented without being defensive.

To be able to communicate effectively – both verbally and in writing

Communication is key for collaboration. Students should have ample opportunities during their school years to present their ideas both individually and in groups. They learn to effectively and efficiently express their ideas. This involves both written and verbal communication and requires an organized mind and a clear vision. There should be opportunities to present analysis and results to a public audience. Success in this skill comes from a sense of self-confidence about what the student has learned and understood, and how it applies to a particular situation.

The ability to listen

Implicit in this group of skills is the ability to listen well and empathetically. One of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to ‘seek first to understand, then to be understood’. Only with an open mind can new ideas be added.

All of these skills are needed in the successful work environment even today. Importantly, all of these skills are taught and practiced in top schools that employ problem based learning.

The top schools in Gurgaon and elsewhere are reworking their teaching methods to enable development of these skills which will be vital for the success of our children. This process must begin early – right at the pre-nursery, nursery school and kindergarten levels. It must accelerate as learners move to the primary, middle and secondary grades.

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