A World Worthy Of Our Youths

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27th Jul 2020

5 min read

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Here’s to youths everywhere!

The United Nations declared 15 July as World Youth Skills Day to address the skyrocketing employment rate of youths which in 2013 was reported to be 74.5 million. A survey by OECD finds many graduates are ill-prepared for the working world. 

The 21st-century world is incredibly Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, & Ambiguous (VUCA). The fourth industrial revolution predicts a world that is reliant on technological advancements and automation for routine tasks, thus requiring a highly skilled workforce that can handle complex problems, are solution-driven and enhance productivity. 

The World Economic Forum consistently identifies skillsets for the future, but if we get to the root of it all, what are the skill sets that must be cultivated from the start? 

Should we be shifting our focus to self-discovery, higher-order thinking skills and understanding the role each of us play in enhancing lives through global responsibility? 

Self-Discovery

According to Aristotle, human actions are influenced by their Eudaimonia. In the book titled, The Eudaimonic Turn: Well-Being in Literary Studies by Pawelski & Moores, scholars analyse what eudaimonia means in the post-theory era and investigate the human condition, the constituents of well-being and what causes humans to flourish and communities to thrive. 

There is a vested interest in this because well-being relates to how we feel especially when we achieve a goal, understand ourselves or the world in a new way or feel inspired. Simply put, when there is a loss of well-being, people spend their energy trying to salvage this loss and ponder on how things could be better.

Self-discovery or eudaimonia should be cultivated in pedagogy to enable our youth to start thinking about what it means to flourish or reach self-actualisation from an early age. At present, our education syllabus focuses too much on the external and so little on the internal – self-identity, individual beliefs or value systems, strengths and talents. 

We then end up spending a great number of our adult years reflecting inwards; attempts to understand why we are wired a certain way and why we are unhappy, all in search of our eudaimonia. 

Perhaps it is too idealistic of me to believe in a Utopian world for our youths, but one can at the very least dream.

This switch in timeline is thus necessary for our youths to begin exploring their life purpose early on, ripe for further exploration. Let them delve into that which they resonate with from the start. Let them find meaning and purpose in what they do based on their interests and abilities. Let them build their self-esteem and well-being. Let them succeed in doing something that gives them intrinsic joy. 

Higher Order Thinking Skills 

Historically, Asians aren’t very vocal with their thoughts and opinions but with the age of the internet, we’re getting there. The problem with not speaking your mind or being discouraged from speaking your truth is it promotes a weak ecosystem that is built on complacency and hampers problem solving. 

To be solution-centric is to recognise that there is a problem in the first place, then, asking the right questions and getting the right answers. This would take you to the root cause of it all, thus hopefully solving the problem for good. 

To build this as a skill in our youths, education pedagogies have to explore new assessment methods that normalise higher order thinking skills to assess learning, understanding and application.

For most professions, the abundance of knowledge that the internet gives no longer requires closed book examinations as a form of assessment, so perhaps it is time to truly measure what our youths think about something they have learnt; whether they agree or disagree on what is taught, what is their stand on it and how this influences their actions and decisions in the future. 

See Also: Lasting Impressions From My Days At Camp

What this does is promote a rich understanding of a theory or a concept that requires them to synthesize things from their point of view which promotes self-reflection on how this would affect their future decisions. It creates individuals with built-in frameworks that already promote critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, and that would help them stand the test of time in this VUCA world.   

Global Responsibility 

A majority of the privileged, the ones with a higher economic status and accessibility to education, safety and comfort, may gravitate towards individualism. Eudaimonia to them could mean being happy in their own lives. But without acknowledging our global responsibility as citizens of this Earth to improve the state of things, the underprivileged will never be liberated. The rich will keep getting richer, and the poor will keep getting poorer.

Without acknowledging our global responsibility as citizens of this Earth to improve the state of things, the underprivileged will never be liberated.

John Locke theorised that humans were born into this world in a blank slate and acquired all of their behavioural traits from their environmental influences. While most scholars have argued that both nature and nurture plays a role, education and awareness can cultivate a paradigm shift in our own individual responsibilities in improving and enhancing things that are systematically broken. 

It is the year 2020 and even I stand corrected the more I educate myself on information surrounding the Black Lives Matters movement. The fact that many things have not changed unless there are deaths and protests reflects the work we still have to do for society. 

Real change can only take place if we have a safe environment to discuss these state of affairs and what each and every one of us can do to make a difference. It is recognising that it is our responsibility to educate the misinformed and to stand and protect the ones that are marginalised. 

It is to tell the difference of right from wrong and instilling these values in our youths so they grow up without any biases. It is to teach that through compassion, collaboration and empathy, we can collectively eradicate everything that is wrong with the world and make things right. 

The future is not a competition, it is a collaboration where knowledge is shared and there is a collective need to enhance and improve through our global responsibilities as individuals and as organisations. The concept of everyone having a global responsibility must be drilled in not only through upbringing but through education.  

Conclusion 

These three skills will not solve employability independently, but it will create youths that are self-aware and self-awareness will open doors and change the way they perceive the world. It will empower them to seize opportunities, learn and grow through humility and believe in a positive world. 

Perhaps it is too idealistic of me to believe in a Utopian world for our youths, but one can at the very least dream. 

See Also: One Person Can Change the World – And Children are Teaching Us How

Laveenia Theertha Pathy works with young adults by helping them discover themselves, their strengths and their abilities to be future-ready. Her free time is spent writing, painting and growing in her passions which include people, learning and growth and making a difference one small step at a time. To connect with Laveenia contact editor@leaderonomics.com.

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