Looking at these two lists of the qualities employers will prefer, I started to reflect on how schools are recognising and investing in our leaders & entrepreneurs of the future.
Critical thinking has jumped from 4th in the 2015 list to second in the 2020 list. If we dissect what critical thinking entails (logically making connections between ideas, analysis of theories, evaluation, argument & debating, concluding) this progression up the skills chart is maybe not so surprising. To be part of an ever changing business world, demands individuals who are able to apply these skills to keep moving forward, meeting the needs of an evolving business landscape.
Maybe more surprising to me is the fall in the skill of negotiation; a valid and essential life skill I would suggest. Without negotiation does this imply that it’s a one size fits all approach or there is only one way of doing things- the leader’s way? What is involved in negotiation? An understanding of others’ point of view? Active listening? Leadership skills to inspire, motivate & empower? Surely vital skills to be comfortable with.
New in the 2020 list are the qualities of emotional intelligence & cognitive flexibility.
Emotional intelligence is defined as the capability of others to recognise their own emotions & those of others, identify a range of feelings & label them appropriately. Significantly, a high level of emotional intelligence enables the individual to adjust emotions to adapt to differing environments. To be able to modify & adapt to emerging situations together with a secure base of reasoning, I would argue is not only core of leadership but also healthy participation within society as a whole.
Cognitive flexibility has been described as the mental ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts & to think about multiple concepts simultaneously. Within this are the subskills of task switching & cognitive shifting; which enables the individual to adapt, refine & assimilate new experiences or events. Considering the amazing leads I have worked with, I can see the significance of these qualities & they are the attributes I remember most fondly abut them.
Significantly, creativity has moved up the 2020 list seven places to number 3 on the list.
I see creativity as the ability to create, develop & present meaningful new ideas, thoughts & opinions within the scope of the Arts in order to represent, challenge or stimulate thoughts & opinions from others.
When we consider the qualities involved within this definition, perhaps they would include the skull of possibility thinking, sequencing & ordering based on a theory, an understanding of verbal & non verbal communication & the ability to motivate others using a range of strategies.
If our main aim in education is to support children to be happy, healthy (emotionally as well as physically) & transition successfully into citizens of the future (obviously meeting their own individual potential) could there be an opportunity to reflect on how our current provision supports children to be aware of & strengthen these key skills?
- Where does the skills of critical thinking for example, happen in each class?
- How are people management skills developed in the Early Years and subsequently progressed throughout the rest of the school?
- Does our curriculum give all children the chance to use their negotiation skills in context?
- Do we as a school team discuss these skills as a whole school level & are they explicitly implemented into our teaching?