Expanding Our Horizon, How Relevant In This Digital Era?

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Six months ago, I wrote about education towards the future of work. I wrote then as I was weighing the best school platform and path for my girl. I particularly stressed interactive teaching regardless of which schools and track we embark on. In the last six months, we decided to remain in her Chinese vernacular school and placed her in extra classes to improve her Chinese (mandarin) literacy. It helps a little but not at the speed we expected. Unfortunately, she began to dislike all the subjects taught in mandarin. She even expressed her frustration as she needed to attend three mandarin lessons in a day, from school to tuition, and extra one-to-one private tuition. 

She started to feel restless as the routine became hectic including attending after-school tuitions and extra-curriculum activities.

To add on, a few days ago, I was invited to join two other mums for a coffee session to discuss withdrawing our kids from a graded dance activity. Withdrawing her from this activity has been long overdue. The parents recently became anxious as our girls started to show disinterest. Probably the intensity increased as they got to another level, and the girls started to feel the challenge thus gradually losing interest. The mode of teaching from the dance teacher has also become mundane for them. Hence, they started to lose their passion.

I became more concerned each day about how to encourage her learning. I am not alone in this dilemma, and I am sure many parents experienced this over the last couple of years. 

We started to explore both private and international schools and their environment. A few of them have a strict, well-disciplined environment while the other few are laxer. 

Coming from a rigid school environment, my girl got a culture shock as she witnessed one of the schools being so lax. The students were moving around and chatting freely even as the teacher is in the class.

The decision came, surprisingly, she opted for the school that is more controlled with disciplined, but what attracted her most is the extra-curriculum activities that the school encourages. The school advocates a critical-thinking mindset, and I have seen and witnessed this improvement in my friends’ kids. These kids were given the opportunities to explore and develop their talents. I noticed this is somehow lacking in our public schools today. Perhaps there are too many students per class thus limiting one potential or could it be other factors?

During the above process, I am still contented and trying to give the current school a chance to develop her language proficiencies. Furthermore, I am in a quandary situation as taking her out of this top preferred school will be the end of the opportunity to return to this school. 

Expanding our horizon

One of my friends I suppose getting impatient with my long battle in my decision-making *lol*. She subtly told me to explore and expand my horizon. Why should we limit our reach? Should we go further to expand our reach to achieve our objectives? She stressed that nothing is impossible, nothing is easy, and it will be a sacrifice to achieve that goal. If you have the resources, go for it. 

How do I expand my horizon?

She strikes me. I should not hamper my girl’s learning further. That relates to what I have been advocating. It’s the future, it’s no longer about the traditional way of learning, and gone are the days of how we used to learn without any technology in place then. It’s about the future, hence one must encourage and build their critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and even their analytical skills. But where can we achieve this?

The foundational skills

Hence, that brings me to reflect on McKinsey’s studies on 56 foundational skills that will thrive in the future of work. I won’t list it all here, instead, I extracted some of them that I believe will help future generations. 

  • Cognitive Skills – these skills come with critical thinking that can resolve the problem, logical thinking, and seeking information. Agility thinking mindset so that one can plan their way of working. Ability to speak or present storytelling publicly, creativity, imagination, and ability to translate knowledge into a different context.
  • Interpersonal Skills that cultivate teamwork, and effectiveness from fostering inclusiveness, motivating different personalities, collaboration, and even resolving conflicts. 
  • Self-leadership who has self-awareness, self-management, ownership, decisive, self-confidence, and even breaking or challenging orthodoxies.
  • The final component we cannot evade is Digital Literacy. Digital collaboration and even digital ethics which is so relevant in the future as it is going to be about human-machine collaboration and working together.

How relevant is this to our current environment?

That reminds me of Jack Ma, who was the only candidate that failed to join KFC. He never gave up, he looked beyond his reach. He relied on his English skills and provided translation services and that’s where he was introduced to the internet, something that he does not know of.

Today is the era of digitalization and businesses are changing. Very soon, we will see businesses moving away from the legacy way of work, and business model. We need to acknowledge that digitalization will resolve many legacy problems, such as never-ending workforce issues, organizational culture, shortage of workers, niche skills, even the worker’s demand, etc.

Months ago I used to chuckle at my husband’s company as they still work within their legacy way of work. They relied upon lots of foreign workers in their factories. I am surprised as they are now exploring deploying AI and robotics to help them to improve their operational efficiencies and perhaps the output and qualities too. Therefore, we cannot laugh this off, as businesses become more aware of the market demand and they need to digitalize to stay competitive.

Start with digital literacy

What about us today? Are we ready for the future of work that happening soon? We cannot evade being digital. Being digital is about speed and agility thus the adoption of digital technologies will help the entire business ecosystem.

However, being digital is not the only key factor to digital and business transformation, one needs to have the foundational skills. The foundational skills will lead one to initiate digitalization, and perhaps start thinking of using big data, and adopting digital technologies to ease businesses to resolve many legacy problems and stay competitive. The foundational skill will help one to think about how this will impact the future of work. The end of the day is to have one explore beyond our horizon, moving away from our legacy or fixed mindset. It’s all about one leading, thinking, and governing the new digital journey.

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