Learn vital skills that can't be taught in school

I agree that our current educational system is not preparing our students for the real world ("Let's tear down the ivory tower called school"; last Saturday).

There are skills that are vital for success, yet many people hardly learn them.

To be future-ready, students must have a passion for learning and the ability to learn how to learn. They must know how to harness information, think critically and constantly improve themselves.

In my straw poll with many people, I found that, sadly, a lot of them have not read a single academic journal or attended any educational course after completing their formal education.

In a fast-changing world, they are heading towards irrelevance and obsolescence.

As there will be potentially more natural crises and other kinds of turbulence ahead, we need to help our students to cultivate problem-solving skills to deal with them.

They need to know how to handle failure and build up their resilience so that they will be able to exploit the silver lining in every dark cloud.

They must be competent in managing change and be committed to constant improvement so as to be able to make sustainable contributions to their organisation and society.

In a world that is increasingly interconnected and interdependent, they must know how to connect and communicate with others in the global community, and have the competence and sensitivity to collaborate with them.

At the same time, they must know how to work with people of different countries, creeds and customs, to co-create solutions for current as well as future challenges.

These are but some of the skills that cannot be cultivated behind the hallowed walls of a school.

Yes, let us tear the walls down to give our students the chance to connect to and learn from the real world.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2015, with the headline 'Learn vital skills that can't be taught in school'. Print Edition | Subscribe