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Month: June 2017

Prepare Students For Future World Of Work – 3 Behavioral Elements

There is tremendous amount of discussion about the fast evolving future of work. While there are many assumptions about the future, many experts agree that it will be difficult to predict clearly and continue to evolve quickly. They also seem to agree that machine learning will become faster than human learning in near future. Some work may continue to be local in nature and highly valued. Some may get automated. One way to succeed or even survive in future could be to proactively develop an ability to continuously observe, reflect, learn and take adaptive actions at an individual and systemic level.

So, from an education or learning perspective, how do you prepare students for the future of work?

We can start with couple of basic premises.

  1. Success at work or life will continue to depend on a set of distinguishing abilities, behaviors or habits.
  2. The environment we are in can influence and impact them.

If educators can figure out ways to develop the following key behaviors for students through interventions and, if students can consciously develop them, readiness increases.

Three key behavioral elements for learning to inculcate early are:

  1. Curiosity, Continuing To Explore and Asking Questions
  2. Openness To Experimenting, Failure and Rework
  3. Achieving Independence Through Confident and Responsible Actions

Educators should consider various ways in which the above behavioral elements can be developed early in their students by designing their learning environments and related processes. As we know, habits once formed early are not easy to change.

Some examples on potential interventions – Classrooms should be include quality time for reflecting on the learning process, explore and develop multiple approaches and seeking out answers together in different ways. In a fast evolving and uncertain world, lack of curiosity in individuals or organizations leads to quick decline. Teachers should become facilitators of the learning process rather than aiming to become the database of answers. The process of figuring out answers should be encouraged and rewarded. Teachers should be open to exploring and learning together with their students. Labs should be places where students should enjoy experiments and figuring various approaches towards answers while becoming comfortable with working through failures. The focus there should not be on getting the right result but rather experimenting and figuring out. The “growth mindset” should be encouraged across the board. Teachers should encourage students to step up at every possible opportunity and experience the different aspects of taking actions with confidence and responsibility, inside and outside the classroom.

Educators have to themselves think deeper and modify their approaches to help prepare their students for a fast evolving future where the nature of work may evolve. Doing what made them and their students successful in the past may not apply for the future. There are of course various aspects to thinking through this. The fundamental point is to start looking at developing fundamental behaviors that enable students to navigate and adapt effectively in an unclear future, when the content itself may not matter as much as the context and behaviors. Start with and focus on one or two. Exploring these scenarios will also force you as educators to effectively contemplate and redesign your future of work.

Tensions Between The Elephant & Rider – Our Brains & Change

I recently completed reading a book, “Switch” that focuses on the topic of change and found the following concept/notes valuable. We see this play out everyday.

Conventional wisdom in psychology is that the brain has two independent systems at work all the times.

  1. the emotional side – part of you that is instinctive, that feels pain and pleasure.
  2. the rational side, also known as the reflective or conscious system – part of you that deliberates and analyzes, and looks into the future.

The duo’s tension is captured by an analogy in University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis book.

Our emotional side is an Elephant and our rational side is its Rider.

Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader. But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant. Anytime, the Elephant and the Rider disagree abut which direction to go, the Rider is going to lose. He’s completely overmatched.

Most of us are familiar with situations in which our Elephant overpowers our Rider. The weakness of the Elephant, our emotional and instinctive side, is clear. It’s often looking for the quick pay-off (ice cream) over the long-term payoff (being thin).

When change efforts fail, it’s usually the Elephant’s fault, since the kinds of change we want typically involve short-term sacrifices for long term payoffs. The Rider simply can’t keep the Elephant on the road long enough to reach the destination.

The Elephant isn’t always the bad guy. Emotion is the Elephant’s turf – love and compassion and sympathy and loyalty. Making progress requires the energy and drive of the Elephant.

If you want to change things, you’ve got to appeal to both. The Rider provides the planning and direction. The Elephant provides the energy. So, if you reach the Riders of your team but not the Elephants, team members will will have understanding without motivation. If you reach their Elephants but not their Riders, they’ll have passion without direction. When Elephants and Riders move together, change can come easily. When they disagree, you’ve got a problem.

If you are working on changes at an individual or organizational level, how will you ensure you appeal to both the Elephant and Rider?

Source:

  • Switch, How To Change Things When Change Is Hard, Chip Heath & Dan Heath; 2010
  • Website – heathbrothers.com/resources/

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