Equipping Students For The Future – Jennifer Oaten

Enhance Learning Program

The essential skills needed for the future of work include competencies like creativity, critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving to find and develop creative solutions for problems that exist in the complex world we live in. The changing nature of work and the rapid pace of change is the reason these skills are becoming more and more important.

It is interesting to see, in the diagram below, the changes in skills employers value from 2015 to 2020. The biggest jump is ‘Creativity’ from ten to three. We can also see the inclusion of two new skills, ‘Emotional Intelligence’ and ‘Cognitive Flexibility’.

At Santa Maria College we have developed what we call our Enhanced Learning Programs.  These programs provide our students with the opportunity to develop new skills including some of the skills listed above.

Innovate in Explore8

This week and next week our Year 8 students are participating in our Year 8 Enhance Learning Program called Innovate in Explore8.   All Year 8 timetabled classes cease and these two weeks are solely dedicated to this program. The focus is on developing skills for the future with a focus on creativity and innovation.

During Explore8 the students get the opportunity to use a process called Design Thinking. Design Thinking is a process that helps provide a solution-based approach to solving problems. The process seeks to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems. The outcome, to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding. The students will take the following steps:

  • Conduct an interview and learn about what life is like for someone else.
  • Use what they learnt in the interview to define the problem they are going to try to solve.
  • Conduct research about this problem to help develop their own opinions
  • Ideate – come up with lots of solutions to the problem.
  • Choose one of these solutions to base their project on.
  • Develop a prototype to show what it will look like, how it will work, why it is a good solution and better than other existing solutions.
  • Meet with the person initially interviewed and show them what they have developed. Evaluate and make changes as needed.

I have been able to observe the girls in action this week, and I am genuinely excited by the amazing work they are doing.  We often hear about equipment purchases in schools – computers, 3D printers and other forms of technology but a growing body of research suggests that the skills of our girls will need to be centred more on the effective use of the human mind than anything external to it. Explore8 provides the opportunity for our girls to develop these skills and I am really looking forward to seeing first-hand, their creativity and innovative thinking at the Expore8 Exhibition on Friday 30 November in the Plaza.

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