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Rethinking Education – What Do Our Children Really Need to be Successful?

Academics is Not Enough

“Study hard and get good grades so you can get a good job” – this was the mantra of our parents because it was the formula that worked in their world. But the world we live in is constantly changing – the world we grew up in is vastly different to the one our parents knew as children. When our children grow up, their world will be different yet again and who knows what it will be like then. The only thing that is for certain is that getting good grades is no longer enough to ensure a successful future.

When the world changes, it favours the ones that have evolved to survive in the new world. To ensure our children’s success means we need to train them for adaptability so they can succeed no matter what the environment around them is like. The emphasis on academics, therefore, is misplaced. I’m not saying it’s irrelevant – just not as important as other skills and abilities. We do not require individuals with heads stuffed full of knowledge. We need individuals with the ability to absorb new information, combine it with existing information, manipulate that information, and create something useful out of it all. Simply knowing stuff doesn’t help you do that.

Rethinking Education – What Do Our Children Need to be Successful?

So if academic success in school is no guarantee of future success then what are we looking for? Well, based on what we’ve seen so far, it seems we’re looking to develop qualities like:

  • Self-control
  • Executive function – this is the set of mental processes that helps connect past experience with present action. It is used to perform activities such as planning, organizing, strategising, remembering and paying attention to details, and managing time and space.
  • Working memory – the active part of our memory that allows us to hold on to information while we work on a problem that requires that information at some point.
  • Fluid intelligence – the ability to think abstractly, reason, identify patterns, solve problems, and discern relationships.

And they are all interlinked:

Nurturing Successful Qualities in Children

Even if your child failed the Marshmallow Test, has a poor working memory, or low fluid intelligence, you can be assured that all is not lost because all of these qualities can be trained and developed. The best time to start is as early as possible but even if you haven’t done anything, just remember that it is never too late to start. Here’s how (keep in mind that the interconnected nature of these qualities means that working on one area will also improve another area)…


Executive Function:

Working Memory:

Many of these activities are computer programs – just so you know…

Fluid Intelligence:

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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