Re-thinking education for equality

Re-thinking education for equality

Barrier Breakers Foundation believes we must re-think our education system for equality to become a reality. We need to move away from the mechanistic ‘teaching to the test’ approach and towards an education system where soft skills are embedded in every learning experience.

Soft skills are the traits and abilities of attitude and behaviour rather than knowledge or technical aptitude.

Soft skills – such as communication, leadership, confidence, motivation, self-awareness, creativity, and teamwork – are increasingly recognised as key to enterprise, entrepreneurship, and leadership.

‘Soft skills are an asset that neither employers nor employees can ignore.’ James Caan CBE

Soft skills are becoming critical determinants of survival in the face of current challenges.  They are the skills we need to adapt successfully to a globalised, rapidly changing, unpredictable environment.

However, there’s a massive soft skills gap, particularly affecting young people.

While soft skills are essential to workplace success and personal wellbeing, their value extends even further.

Do we want an education system that develops the individual, encourages questioning, reflection, and a curious mind, creating a lust for lifelong learning and bringing about social mobility and equality? If so, then education policy needs to recognise and prioritise soft skills fully.

Soft skills open our eyes to reality. They give us the strength to change things for the better, and they provide us with the resilience that making change demands.

There is evidence that this new kind of education would have dramatic benefits, not only for the young people concerned but also for society.

Graham Allen’s report, Early Intervention: The Next Steps, detailed “the immense penalties to society and to the individual of failing to provide a strong foundation of social and emotional capabilities early in life.”

If we care about equality, we must support all young people by putting soft skills at the heart of education.

Does the past get in the way of your future potential?

Does the past get in the way of your future potential?

Every culture is full of ‘boxes’ that precede us and into which we may or may not fit easily. So it’s not just your past that might get in the way of your future potential…but the past.

Different cultures, different boxes.

For some, the boxes of their culture work well; for many, they don’t.

And this pre-determined past that we’re born into can get in the way of our potential, our future, our life.

Often, we get trapped in boxes without even realising it.

We mistake them for the truth.

Often the most aggressive jailer, keeping us in a box, is our own inner voice. It has absorbed all the boxes of our culture and pushes us into them at every opportunity:

“Women can’t…”

“I’m too old to…”

“When I’ve lost a few more pounds, I’ll…”

“My religion says I mustn’t…”

“I’m not intelligent enough to…”

When you hear yourself thinking about limiting judgements such as these, do a double-check.

Make sure it’s what you really believe.

Or whether it’s just a box that you – or that jailer – are putting yourself into.

Don’t let the past dictate your future.

Do you recognise these 5 barriers to creative thinking?

Do you recognise these 5 barriers to creative thinking?

We hear so much about the value of creative thinking. Yet how many people really value it?

Despite the attention that’s been heaped on creativity over recent years, the most prevalent mindset, particularly in business, still seems to be the one that believes logic trumps intuition, numbers provide the only valid evidence, and creativity is about finger painting, doing crazy role-play exercises, and being generally silly.

However much we value creative thinking, it’s easy to be swayed by the Left Focus bias of a logic-loving world…even when the logic is…well, illogical.

Have you ever encountered any of these Left Focus barriers to creative thinking?

Have you ever:

  1. Not started something because you couldn’t prove the outcome first?
  2. Set goals that looked good on a spreadsheet but were unrealistic – and then got annoyed when you didn’t achieve them?
  3. Massaged the figures to reach targets?
  4. Got demotivated because a plan didn’t go precisely to plan?
  5. Stayed in a situation because logically you should have liked it…even though your gut was screaming, “get me out of here!”?

Logic, especially when evidenced by numbers, enjoys a pre-eminent status. So it’s tempting to base every decision on it, particularly if you’re answerable to others. That way, you can prove your reasoning in a socially acceptable way.

The trouble is that it’s liable to wipe out creative thinking.

And often wipes out logic too.

“Teaching kids to embrace the unknown while maintaining their mental balance is far more difficult than teaching them an equation in physics or the causes of the First World War.” Yuval Noah Harari

Barrier Breakers Methodology for Soft Skills Development and Evaluation (BBM) was designed specifically to address this problem.

Read more about our methodology here: BBM.