Why Their Ability to Adapt Might Save Them From Extinction
When we talk about forging a student who will invariably become a citizen of the 21st century, two of the most important skills we can and should imbue our kids with is flexibility and adaptability.
Rigidity in most things is never a particularly good thing. Dogmatic adherence or allegiance impedes the natural evolutionary process in all its forms and stymies meaningful change and reformation. A student who is rigid at a young age will more than likely only continue to calcify as they get older, making them all together inflexible at a time when perhaps that lack of flexibility might be costly to them on a professional level.
It has been predicted that many of the jobs our kids will have or seek have not even been invented yet and that many more occupations will inevitably see parameters and responsibilities shift over the course of the next several decades. This means that many of our kids will have more than one career, and some of them might actually have to change careers multiple times during their lifespan, which is a daunting if not downright terrifying proposition for those unwilling to embrace change.
Flexibility and being amendable to change is all about emotional adaptation and the ability and willingness to evolve if and when the need arises. An example of this happened recently on a massive scale when the widespread closure of public schools forced teachers of all types – from luddites to technocrats – to adapt a fully digital model to accommodate distance learning. Like a meteor striking the earth and causing a potential extinction-level event, the response from educators varied and was a mix of panic, fear, and outright bedlam. For some teachers who had wrongfully shunned all but the most perfunctory technology in the classroom, theirs was a profound struggle to implement even the most basic and rudimentary technological lessons, exposing an inflexibility that no doubt made them feel outmoded and outdated.
That feeling of fear, underscored by an abject defeatism rooted in the belief of their own impending obsolescence, is something no child should have to experience as they move towards their own chosen career paths. Kids need to understand that change is often a good thing and their ability to shift alongside their environment will make them invaluable in the long run. This focus on flexibility is also important because that ability to adapt is a natural outcome of students who have been well-versed in the full spectrum of 21st century skills.
For those teachers looking to contribute, collaborate or merely pull some resources, Edtopia offers an exciting, centralized hub that focuses specifically on the skills children will need as they progress through this century.
Beyond tests and rote memorization, we need our kids to be highly adaptable organisms so that their flourishment – rather than their extinction – is guaranteed.