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From Readiness to Success: Supporting 21st Century Leaders

"As a society, we are facing undeniably challenging times. The speed in which the world was changed by the COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrates the vital need for creative and innovative thinkers and leaders who can work together to address unexpected crises. How can we prepare the children in our care today to be the future leaders in a world with challenges we cannot even imagine?

It is critical to identify and understand what children will need to be successful in the future.

Since children build 85% of their brain capacity in the first five years of life, early educators are truly the architects of neuronal and synaptic capacities for young children. Every interaction, exploration, and activity we design has the potential to enhance a child’s capacity for learning. With this responsibility in mind, it is critical to identify and understand what children will need to be successful in the future. What are the life skills that children will need to thrive as adults and effective citizens in the 21st century?

In 2016, the World Economic Forum published a report titled, “The Future of Jobs: Employment Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. In this comprehensive study, the authors identified the following six skills needed to best function within the workforce of the future:

  • Creativity

  • Critical thinking

  • Complex problem-solving

  • Strategic thinking

  • Collaboration

  • Communication

These six skills are essential for developing the innovations to solve real-world problems (like a pandemic) and assigning meaningful value to both every-day and global challenges (Work Economic Forum, 2016). For children to acquire these skills, educators must rethink the current educational system and retool for the future. This means moving away from limited, didactic, or scripted curriculum and toward flexible learning formats that are intellectually and creatively engaging. There is no one particular “magic” formula to ensure children are prepared to tackle the mandates of future opportunities or challenges. However, we do know that children will need much more than simply mastery of traditional content knowledge (i.e. memorization, repetition, recitation, etc.)..."

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