Are we failing our children by what is taught at school? How much has the basic curriculum changed in the last 30 years? Are our children still having to endure an education program designed for the 20th Century? I believe so.
There is little evidence that governments around the world have really got to grips with what is happening right underneath their noses. It is perhaps little wonder, as the politicians and leaders of our states, institutions and corporations are, almost exclusively, products of the 20th Century.
The steady spread of computers and mobile devices that we have become used to over the past twenty years has lulled the baby-boomers into a complacency. A state of believing that this pace will continue, and that they, as the first generation to really get to grips with the IT revolution, have a handle on it and can even teach the youngsters a thing or two about programming or big data.
The truth is that the pace of change has become supersonic, and the real impact on humans is not on getting to grips with the latest gizmo, or learning a new programming language, but on the changing psychology of our species, and perhaps even the way our very brains are becoming rewired.
We are being hacked every day. Yes, I mean us. Not just our computers, but us as sentient beings. Algorithms are acting on our biology constantly, checking on our food preferences, favourite holiday destinations, clothes we like, ideal partners, credit worthiness, what we enjoy listening to, what we read, and where we go.
Big data is here and, combined with AI (artificial intelligence), we are at the mercy of the data corporations and their marketing plans. It is little wonder that governments of nation states around the world want to bring them under their control. AI will undoubtedly do many things better than humans will ever be able to. Fly planes, drive cars and diagnose diseases, for example. Some jobs will of course survive, and many others that we have never thought about will be created as part of the AI revolution.
This 21st Century world, that our children and grandchildren will populate, will be very different to our current view of things. And, if we go on pretending that we don’t have to do anything different to help our children deal with this world, then we will be bequeathing them a future of misery. The signs of change are already appearing. Children’s mental health is at crisis point today. Children in England as young as 11 years of age are being referred for specialist support today at a rate that is 30% higher than just 3 years ago. More than a quarter of 14 year old girls in the UK have self-harmed. And, loneliness is being cited as a rapidly increasing scourge of teenagers with a 14% increase in referrals in just one year.
IT, the internet, and particularly social media, have transformed, in a very short time, the way that children communicate, interact and socialise. A teenager may have thousands of online contacts, but feel isolated and unsupported. Young people are caught up in the illusion that everyone else is popular, has loads of friends and is having a great time – all of the time!
The world of cyber-space has created an illusion of choice, expectation and false happiness. This creates a state of disenchantment. Young people are reporting feeling less happy, more depressed and less fulfilled than previous generations.
So what to do? To survive and thrive in this new world, we need to push emotional intelligence up the priority stack. Traditional learning, which was based largely on fact retention, is no longer important. Google and cloud computing can handle the routine storage of data for us better than we can. Our children need to develop their self-awareness. They need to be able to be comfortable with their own independence and sense of responsibility. Introspection, judgement and tolerance of others will all be vital skills that will differentiate people in the future. People will be become career nomads, constantly reinventing themselves, and, to manage that successfully, will require a strong sense of personal identity, purpose and awareness of self and others.
As our horizons widen and destinations become more far-flung, the key to handling the volatility, uncertainty and complexity of the emerging world, is to change the focus in the education and development of our children from traditional learning to a greater level of emotional intelligence.
If you feel that you (or members of your team) would benefit from exploring emotional intelligence please do get in touch. Emotionally intelligent organisations benefit from enhanced personal and collective effectiveness and productivity.
Simply submit your contact details on the Contact Us page and I will be delighted to get in touch with you for an informal initial chat.