The Future Proof Skills Your Students Need: Podcast #52

Today I’m excited to share with you a conversation with Andrew McPeak. Andrew is a next gen researcher, speaker, and writer for Growing Leaders. He also is the coauthor of our newest book, Marching Off the Map. Here are some highlights from our conversation.

Andrew McPeak: The future, sometimes, can be a scary thought. It’s especially scary for students today, because all students think about is the future. There are a lot of question marks regarding the future – artificial intelligence, technological advances, and all of those kinds of things. This got us thinking: “What are the things that we know that we’ll need—no matter what the future brings?”

Tim Elmore: We’re all about developing leaders in the next generation, but it begins with fundamental skills that no automation, no technological advance, nor change in the world can devalue. In 2014, Inside Higher Ed did a survey of chief academic officers, and 96% said they thought they were doing a good job in preparing students for a career. They may have been grading on a curve though, because the proof is in the pudding. In a different survey released by Gallup, measuring how business leaders and the American public in general view the state and the value of higher education, just 14% of Americans and only 11% of business leaders strongly agreed that the graduates have the necessary skills they need for a career.

Andrew: Okay, so let’s talk about the five career-ready skills that every student is going to need, no matter what career they’re going into—regardless of what they’re interested in doing in the future. Tim, what are they?

Tim: The first skill is critical thinking. We all know technology is not going away, and we recognize it’s done many good things for us. On the other hand, it’s damaged our ability to think on our own. We often look for Google to answer a question rather than to think critically about the issue.

The one practice I’d love to encourage you to do with students is to unpack everything. I mean every issue that might come up as a current event in the classroom. This is all about not only teaching kids what to think, but how to think.

Andrew: Okay, so the first one is critical thinking. What’s number two?

Tim: Number two is resourcefulness. I believe to become resourceful is of even greater value than to have a good memory. I need my memory less today because I’ve got this tablet or this phone that remembers a lot of things for me. So, if I can be resourceful, if that muscle of resourcefulness has been developed in me, I can find answers wherever they are.

Andrew: One way educators can build on this idea of resourcefulness is by having at least one test be open book and open note. If you do this and add a time element, the challenge for the student is not memorization, but figuring out how resourceful they can be.


Tim: The third one is a term that we are calling creative processing. Due to the rapid rate of change, we are going to have to be creative. Far too many adults and students say, “I’m just not a creative person.” I would say, “We are all very creative.” For some of us, however, our creative muscle has atrophied. Creativity is really just connecting two existing ideas/items to create a third.

Here’s a good exercise. I think it would be great for educators to bring into class a bag full of unrelated items. It could be pots and pans from the kitchen, candy bars, or anything as long as they are completely unrelated items. Then have the students pull two or three out of the bag and ask, “How can these hypothetically be combined?”

The next skill is a term called analytical writing. It’s not just writing, but it is the ability to form an argument in your head and then articulate it, eventually going to print. I really believe that part of this skill that needs to be developed is the idea of debate. Perhaps you form an informal or formal debate team? Or maybe you divide your classes up into different groups to discuss an argument where the students are asked to articulate what they believe.

Andrew: That’s so good. What is the final one, Tim?

Tim: The last one is leadership perspective. Leadership perspective means, “I see the big picture, not just my own angle.” Every student is going to need leadership skills.

Andrew: That’s great. What is a practical way you encourage people to start students on their leadership journey?

Tim: Well I think it begins with a good question: “If nobody got paid to follow you, why should they follow you?” Ultimately we should be leaders who solve problems and serve people.

I hope you take time during your commute to listen to the whole conversation. Click below to listen to the full discussion. If you want to see the rest of this list of future proof skills, check out Marching Off the Map here.

Order Now: Marching Off the Map
Inspire Students to Navigate a Brand New World

Our new book is now available! Leading today’s students often feels like being in a new country with old maps that don’t work. Understanding and connecting with the generation in this land is often times frustrating and draining. We need new strategies on how to march off our old maps and create new ones.

From decades of research and hands-on experience, Dr. Tim Elmore and Andrew McPeak collate their conclusions into one resource that helps adults:

  • Inspire students to own their education and their future
  • Lead students from an attitude of apathy to one of passion through metacognition
  • Enable students to push back from the constant digital distractions and practice mindfulness
  • Raise kids who make healthy progress, both emotionally and mentally, through their teenage years
  • Give students the tools to handle the complexities of an ever-changing world
  • Understand and practically apply the latest research on Generation Z

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The Future Proof Skills Your Students Need: Podcast #52