It is an interesting exercise to consider the key skills required to perform in all the discrete tasks which make up one’s employment and determine how many of these were reflected in one’s school education. My school education was largely focused on developing my literacy and numeracy skills and capacity for recall, as well as fostering my ability to think critically and develop conceptual understanding. I use each of these in some capacity every day. However, there are many really important capabilities that I rely upon that were emphasised far less in my schooling.
The capacity to collaborate meaningfully with others, to problem solve, to adapt to situations with flexibility and to think creatively were not great features of the teaching and learning program than I experienced. Strong social skills and emotional intelligence were not considered to be as fundamental as they are today.
At King David we focus on holistically developing our students to ensure that they acquire a broad set of skills that set them up for success in the world that they will graduate into. Often times this will occur through participation in our regular curriculum where an increased employment of problem-based learning, open-ended tasks and peer and group learning opportunities have all ensured that we go well beyond the traditional 3 Rs of reading, writing and arithmetic. Additionally, our cocurricular programming provides
plentiful opportunities for our students to thrive in what are sometimes referred to as the ‘soft skills’ that are so vital in our working and social experience.
This week I was enraptured by the spectacular Years 9-12 production of 42nd Street. Our staff and students’ capacities to continually push their performance boundaries, to embody the triple threat of accomplished singing, dancing and acting and to produce such a professional show is worthy of celebration.
After watching the performance, I reflected on just how effective such productions are in generating development of the key skills and capabilities that our students will need in the future. The performance process requires discipline, courage, sincere collaboration, trust, problem solving and creativity. It hinges on the capacity to regulate emotional peaks and troughs and to work in concert with one’s peers’ highs and lows too.
It occurred to me that sometimes in school it is the unwritten curriculum that proves to be the most valuable. This extraordinary development that can occur on or backstage, can also occur in a creative assembly, on the sports field, in inter-school debating and Philosothons, in Jewish Life activities and in youth leadership forums.
Through providing such a broad array of opportunities, both within and outside of the classroom, in so many realms of school life, we we are investing in the capacities of our students to be “future-ready”. In this way we can ensure that whatever the world looks like when they graduate, our students will possess the skills and dispositions to allow them to flourish.