The world of work has changed dramatically in the 21st century and as parents, we are preparing our children for a job market we may never previously have imagined. Add the onslaught of COVID-19 to the mix, and things are even more difficult to predict.

With so much uncertainty about the workforce, job security, and future careers, it’s important for parents and teachers alike to focus their energy where it can make a real difference. There is one thing we know for sure: children who are able to adapt to shifting circumstances are the ones who will thrive.

After a year filled with remote learning and makeshift at-home classrooms, it’s clear that the future generation needs to develop skills beyond the standard smarts needed to pass tests and score well in exams. Children quietly sitting in rows at desks while the teacher occupies them with facts and worksheets is not going to prepare them for the future – whatever it might hold.

Going beyond academic learning

We’re all familiar with our little ones’ individuality, curiosity and unique skills, and yet standardised testing, exams and traditional teaching methods are still very much the norm in Australia. Of course, knowledge is important, but the role of a school to serve its learners goes far beyond just academic learning.

Every student has the right to be actively engaged in learning that is meaningful and authentic and that develops the key skills that really matter for success in life. Just as someone can get better at maths or gymnastics, so too can children become better collaborators, communicators, creative and critical thinkers and become more resilient self-starters.

The government and state departments for education also see value in these skills – ‘collaboration’ is mentioned 40 times on the science syllabus for years 7-10 alone – and yet few schools are actively providing students with opportunities to learn and grow in these skills.

Despite state-level directives, even fewer schools are providing teachers with the adequate professional development and collaborative learning time they need to implement the explicit teaching and assessment of these skills. Instead, they’re overloading teachers with unskilled supervision responsibilities such as playground and bus duties.

What does this mean for parents?

Parents have the power to change education in this country by demanding better for their children. The much-debated National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) still exists in large part because parents expect it as a point of reference for comparing their child and their school.

But what if we as parents changed our expectations? Have you asked how your child’s school is explicitly teaching the key skills that really matter, especially in light of the pandemic? And how are they supporting their teachers to do so?

By encouraging schools to grow students’ critical and creative thinking, collaboration, communication and resilience skills, we can start to better equip our children with the skills they really need to learn. By engaging children in real-world problems and giving them a voice when it comes to their learning, we’re able to empower them not just today, but into a more certain future.


About Emily Liccioni, School Development Coach, New Tech Network Australia:

Emily Liccioni is a School Development Coach at New Tech Network Australia, and partners with schools to provide more engaging, student-centred teaching practices. New Tech Network Australia partners with schools to update their teaching and learning for the modern world. Currently working with schools across NSW, Victoria and Queensland, New Tech Network Australia works with schools at every grade level to redesign the learning experience for students.

The New Tech Network consists of more than 200 schools in the USA and Australia, and provides support, a framework, the tools and powerful NESA accredited professional development for meaningful and sustainable change. Through innovative, project-based learning, students are encouraged to participate, engage, and interact at a pace that suits their individual needs.

Endorsed by Barack Obama, New Tech Network has been praised as a model that provides students with the skills they need to succeed. With over 2000 teachers trained and 20% growth per annum, the New Tech Network is the future of education. In Australia, New Tech Network currently works with 12 schools across NSW, Victoria and Queensland, with more coming on board in 2021.