What skills should our kids be learning to thrive in the future?

What is the purpose of education?

What skills should our kids be learning to thrive in the future?
Photo by Element5 Digital / Unsplash

In South Africa our educators and politicians believe that turning out school children that have passed all of their exams, naturally results in future citizens that make a positive contribution to society.

Sadly the reality is that this theory doesn't add up.

Evidence from around the world concludes emphatically that just knowing how to pass an exam doesn't actually create human beings that are prepared for the future.

So what then does prepare a young person for the future?

What skills should our schools actually be focusing on if empowered, self-reliant, creative, trustworthy, empathic adults is what we desire as a society?

Turns out, the answer may date back to a recommendation made by Aristotle.

The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues has commissioned the production of a documentary exploring the place of character and virtues in the education of young people today, and in society at large. The documentary has been produced by the award-winning The Moment and includes schools in both the UK and USA sharing their approaches to character education.
Presented by BBC journalist Katie Derham, the film explores the role of character in schools, how implementing character within the curriculum can be achieved and how developing a character-based school ethos can transform schools and students.

'Character education is an umbrella term loosely used to describe the teaching of children and adults in a manner that will help them develop variously as moral, civic, good, mannered, behaved, non-bullying, healthy, critical, successful, traditional, compliant or socially acceptable beings.

Concepts that now and in the past have fallen under this term include social and emotional learning, moral reasoning and cognitive development, life skills education, health education, violence prevention, critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and conflict resolution and mediation.' - via

Developing character virtues is a key component of the practice of futures thinking and developing a futures consciousness; the two go hand-in-hand.

The question is - what is the purpose of education?

To turn out people that can pass exams or prepare young people for life? Based on the intent, the method should then be formulated.