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Parents should help their children develop three different character traits in order to be successful in life, argues one expert who says they are often overlooked in the traditional education system.
Nadeem Nathoo, co-founder of The Knowledge Society’s teenage innovation program, believes that in order to be successful, children should be curious.
They shouldn’t be “lazy” either, Nathoo said, though he made it clear that doesn’t mean kids need to have “super strong work ethics”.
Third, Nathoo said, parents should consider whether their child has a “bias to action” – “do they spend a lot of time thinking or actually doing things and creating them?”
“I think if your child does these three things from a character perspective and that is something you can identify and train, they are probably well on their way in life,” Nathoo told the conference last month.
A study published in 2018 in the peer-reviewed Pediatric Research journal that collected data from 6,200 U.S. kindergarten children from another study found that the children of parents who believed their children were more curious, do better at reading and arithmetic.
Meanwhile, Harvard psychologist Lisa Feldman has told Barrett that parents should applaud their child for depriving them of agency so they can learn skills for themselves.
Nathoo suggested that parents could help nurture such skills by providing their children with problems and tools needed to solve them.
He also urged parents to make their children aware of the variety of jobs available to them. For example, Nathoo said it was “impossible to imagine being a nanofabrication technician if you don’t know what it is”.
He believed that parents should “deliberately” arouse their children’s curiosity by encouraging them to do their own research and find out.
“We literally teach the opposite”
Additionally, in the educational system, Nathoo said “we literally teach the opposite” of many qualities that are widely valued in people – problem solving, dealing with ambiguity, communication and collaboration.
He explained, “There is no place for problem solving – there is always an answer at the end of the textbook. There’s no room for ambiguity – you know exactly what you’re learning in grades 8,9,10,11,12 I don’t teach people how to communicate well, and it’s very competitive and not collaborative.“
Nathoo stressed that he was not trying to “beat up” the education system but instead wanted to highlight what people value and where there is some “misalignment” in what young people are taught.
“I think a lot of young people are actually wasting their time in their current education system,” Nathoo said, referring to how they are forced to memorize and reproduce information.
He stated that “anyone who’s been through the system knows that this is not the best way to keep information, so it’s a bit like this secret that the older generation is hiding from younger people.”
Nathoo argued that “life is probably the best institution for human development,” but said that it feels “very unstructured” and “random” because the educational system fails to prepare young adults for it.
Therefore, he believed that project-based and experiential learning, as well as working with others and building relationships, were key to young people’s development.
“Those are the things that last, the things that don’t last are memorization and burping, and unfortunately that’s probably 70 to 90 percent of the system that’s in place today,” added Nathoo.
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