Have you seen the movie “Divergent”? It’s about a young woman who discovers that she is an “out-of-the-box” (read: creative) thinker. But then, she also discovers that in the one-track-mind world she lives in, this kind of thinking is illegal and is even punishable by death.
Of course, it’s just fiction. The movie, however, points to a skill we need for tomorrow’s jobs, and the one skill we are all born with—creativity.
According to WEF’s (World Economic Forum) website (weforum.org), this skill—combined with looking at the world with curiosity, lots of questions, and a desire to learn about the world and one’s self through play—is the one mindset a child needs for the jobs of the future.
Unfortunately, “this mindset is often eroded or even erased by conventional educational practices when young children enter school,” the website furthers, citing the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking as an example of how children’s divergent thinking diminishes over time.
“Ninety-eight percent of children in kindergarten are ‘creative geniuses’ – they can think of endless opportunities of how to use a paper clip,” says the website. However, “this ability is reduced drastically as children go through the formal schooling system and, by age 25, only 3 percent remain creative geniuses.”
Sadly, in the last 25 years, the Torrance Test has shown a decrease in originality among children in kindergarten up to Grade 3.
A recent WEF report states that “many of today’s education systems are already disconnected from the skills needed to function in today’s labor markets.”
Meanwhile, a New Zealand study which compared children who learned to read at age 3 with those who learned to read at age 7 showed that those who learned to read at 7 displayed a higher comprehension level. One explanation for this is that they had more time to explore the world around them through play.
The WEF website, however, maintains that while creativity is an important skill in tomorrow’s workplace, it does not lessen the importance of the three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic.
“The question is how do we foster the above-mentioned breadth of skills, and keep alive the natural ability of children to learn throughout a lifetime—instead of eroding it when they enter formal schooling?”
WEF offers a simple solution: engage children in positive, playful experiences, which “provide children with the opportunity to develop social, emotional, physical and creative skills in addition to cognitive ones.”
Here now is the list of WEF’s Top 10 skills for jobs in 2020:
- Complex problem solving
- Critical thinking
- People management
- Coordinating with others
- Emotional intelligence
- Judgment and decision making
- Service orientation
- Cognitive flexibility