Elon Musk is rarely out of the news. Whether it’s making stunning electric cars or huge household batteries, building one of the biggest factories in the world or flying rockets into space, the Tesla CEO is one of the most extraordinary entrepreneurs of our age. Mike Krieger is the co-founder of Instagram, and, at only 31 years of age, one of the wealthiest people. The social networking app now has over 800 million daily active users, all who joined since its launch only seven years ago. In 1998, Sergey Brin and Larry Page founded Google, one of the most influential companies on the planet, employing almost 60,000 people and with an estimated value of over US$500 billion. Apart from being extraordinarily successful, what else might these three organizations have in common? Well, they were all targeted by research and development teams from the International School Bangkok (ISB) over a period of three years.
“We are witnessing rapid changes in society and the workplace,” shared Graeme Scott, Deputy Head for Learning at ISB. “Schools have a responsibility to their students to provide the most up-to-date, cutting-edge and relevant learning opportunities and to constantly re-examine the skills and attributes their students will need in order to flourish in this dynamic world.”
From 2013-2017, teachers and leaders from ISB met with these hugely innovative companies, as well as with other world leading schools and universities, to find out what skills they look for in their employees and candidates and what qualities they felt our future leaders would need in order to flourish and enable others to be happy and successful. These meetings were part of a series of research and development visits, mainly targeting the Silicon Valley area of California. Here, it was possible to visit clusters of excellence, including these organizations who are really pushing the envelope and tapping into the ways our world is changing. ISB’s research and development teams began to piece together some common success criteria and key features that helped make these establishments leaders in their respective fields.
“We found that all of the successful organizations we visited really put care for people at the heart of their mission,” said Scott, leader of the R&D process. “Whether we were looking at industry giants, small schools or innovative universities, all placed a high degree of importance on social emotional learning, care for self and care for others. We know from research that students who feel cared for are more likely to learn.”
ISB also tapped into the expertise of their faculty and when their 220 international teachers scatter to all parts of the globe for summer holidays, they were asked to bring back an artifact (these included research papers, magazine articles, video clips, objects or personal stories) that demonstrated a specific way the world was changing. This evidence was gathered, stories were told and a synthesis process was begun. This data was combined with the findings from the R&D visits and gradually, some significant trends emerged and ways to approach these new challenges began to surface.
The result was the development of six ‘attributes’ that student need to acquire in order to be successful in tomorrow’s world.
- The first of these attributes was creativity: students need to be able to develop innovative and imaginative ideas that have an impact.
- Students need to be globally-minded: they should be invested in the world and it’s diversity and aware of how actions can impact local and global communities.
- They need to be adaptable: responding appropriately and with flexibility to ambiguous or changing circumstances.
- They need to be able to recognize their personal emotions and those of others through social-intelligence: navigating relationships and responding appropriately.
- They should be able to be self-managing: able to independently direct, monitor and evaluate personal behaviors, goals and time.
- Lastly, they need to be value-driven: to be guided by promoting good citizenship and personal meaning. The literacies of critical thinking, along with these student attributes are vital to help develop students who will flourish in our global society.
Scott continues, “Some might call these ‘employability factors,’ but we prefer to see them as characteristics that anyone, aged 4 – 84, can develop. Learning experiences should deliberately create opportunities for students to acquire these attributes and for them to be practiced and nurtured. We believe students with this package of traits will be very well equipped and prepared for world we are now
In the words of Bill Gates, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” ISB’s research and development work also led the school to a new vision. It reads, ‘Enriching communities through the intellectual, humanitarian and creative thoughts and actions of our learners.’ This vision aims to transfer the learning students experience into real action, giving back to local and international communities and to the student’s personal communities in their classrooms, in their families, and in their future working environments.
Impact as spectacular as that of Tesla, Google or Instagram is hard to match, but through education that is forward-thinking, constantly adapting and focused on what skills and attributes learners need to be successful, we can create extensive impact not only for each individual child but for global society.