You already have the skills to future-ready your students for the world of tomorrow, but you may not realize it.
In the future, robots will take over most rule-driven jobs, such as driving, assembly, and more. At the same time, the knowledge for many fields will rapidly become obsolete. Your students are growing up in a world where the new normal is gig work: short-term, part-time, on-demand, with rapidly changing knowledge demands.
We talk about the need for hard STEM skills as the key to making our students future-ready, but research from inside Google tells us a more subtle story. [Hint–you don’t have to love math or science to make your students future-ready.]
“Project Oxygen shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.” Cathy N. Davidson, in Valerie Strausss, “The surprising thing Google learned about its employees – and what it means for today’s students”, Washington Post, Dec. 20, 2017.
A more recent study by Google shows that its most successful teams are marked by
“equality, generosity, curiosity toward the ideas of your teammates, empathy, and emotional intelligence. And topping the list: emotional safety. No bullying. To succeed, each and every team member must feel confident speaking up and making mistakes. They must know they are being heard.” Cathy Davidson.
Who has these skills?
Standards matter for your own job security, but to make your students future-ready, deliver those standards in ways that:
- develop team conversational skills—the ability to share ideas with courtesy, receive feedback with grace and understanding, and navigate to solutions;
- encourage risk-taking—including finding the inner strength to recover from errors and being able to admit to others what you don’t know;
- teach students to learn how to learn—making sure every student has a fundamental reserve of grit to tackle the unfamiliar and difficult (for advanced students, pushing them to where their brain hurts a bit when learning).
Any student who gives up easily, who avoids work when it gets hard, who gets embarrassed by mistakes, who fears looking bad, or who bullies others is an at-risk student when it comes to being future-ready. Research is telling us what teachers have always known, social skills matter for success.
So go out there and use your superpowers to future-ready your students.