Over the past century, significant changes have occurred culturally, economically and politically in the UK and aboard, with one of the biggest developments being the proliferation of technology and social media. These changes have created infinite new jobs and workforces, especially in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) sector, and with many of these occupations having not existed until now, people are required to develop entirely new skill sets. The world is still continuing to change at a rapid pace, so how can we prepare Generation Z for their future careers and lives as well-rounded, adaptive adults?
The curriculum aims to prepare pupils for their futures and it does so successfully, however the future can be unpredictable, so arming our pupils with adaptable skills and resilience is equally as important.
However, lecture-style lessons are often demotivating and can prevent useful skills from being nurtured and developed; it’s also possible that limited knowledge is retained during these classes. Kinaesthetic learning, however, offers a solution, with pupils using applied, hands-on methods to explore topics and subjects. This gives them autonomy over their learning, engaging and inspiring learners, and enabling them to discover their potential.
Teamwork, confidence, communication, creativity and problem-solving, for example, are often called “soft” skills, a term which somewhat undermines the significance of them, yet they are skills that employees both past and present (and, almost certainly, future too) look for when recruiting. Hands-on learning also promotes the development of these life skills, as it encourages exploration and discovery, imagination and resilience. So, as teachers, we must bring as many opportunities for creativity and practical learning into the classroom as possible.
There is a wide range of hugely versatile educational resources with the ability to enrich the curriculum by enabling topics to be delivered using a ‘hands-on, minds-in’ approach. They often offer a number of guided and open-ended projects, so that pupils of every ability can achieve mastery over topics. For example, you might have a resource that challenge pupils to design a solution that alerts people to a natural hazard such as a thunderstorm. As part of the process, pupils consider elements of computing, science, design technology and programming in order to design a device or robot. Pupils then bring their creations to life using programming hardware and software, coding them to carry out specified actions.
When pupils carry out this type of practical activity, they’re able to recognise and appreciate the real-world application of theories and, because the learning is independent, they feel inspired to use their imagination and knowledge to devise answers and explanations to hypotheses.
As a teacher, the moment when a lightbulb goes on in a pupil’s head – that ah-ha! moment – is so encouraging. Their idea may have real potential, but may not achieve the desired outcome, however the fact that they’ve been inspired to deliberate independently, and also have the confidence to do so, means that they’re becoming autonomous, flexible thinkers with the resilience to try and try again until the results are successful.
Effective teaching tools engage pupils and, more importantly, make learning fun, developing life skills that will help them as they progress through education and into the real world. They also often promote teamwork, providing a fantastic opportunity for pupils to learn from each other and increase their confidence and communication skills, as they all bring different strengths to the groups and must use these to develop solutions and determine answers.
It’s no secret that when children are interested and enthusiastic about learning, they learn more and they learn well, storing that all-important information in their long-term memory.
So, with the world constantly changing and evolving, developing intuitive, independent learners who have the ability to be creative, practical and excel at those all-important “soft” life skills ensures that, when the time comes and they enter the professional world, they are well-prepared and highly-skilled individuals.
To find out more, visit the LEGO Education website.