With technology advancing at a rapid rate and transforming the world as we know it, educators across the globe are readying their students for the future of work.
Managing Director of BT Group, Bernadette Wightman highlights in her recent World Economic Forum (WEF) article that the time for learners to upskill is now.
“Nurturing staff for the long-term and equipping young people with the tools they need to progress becomes more important in a working environment that’s in flux,” she wrote.
“That means we need strong cultures that promote mentoring and the development of so-called soft skills.”
And as demand for mathematics, computing and data analysis grows, Wightman believes that the focus on soft skills like creativity, critical thinking, persuasion and negotiation will grow too.
So if students need to keep up with the changing tides of the global workforce, schools must instill a growth mindset and refine their learners’ skill sets for the future.
Where students thrive in uncertain times
One such school that’s preparing today’s learners for the jobs of tomorrow is Hawai’i Preparatory Academy (HPA) in Kamuela.
From kindergarten right through to 12th grade and the postgraduate year, HPA equips their students with the in-demand skills for a diverse array of careers today and in the future.
The school prepares students for the future of work in a number of ways, according to K-12 Capstone Coordinator Aaron Schorn.
First, they give them access to supportive mentors from HPA and around the world. Second, they supply the time and space that students need to grow their ideas and pursue them, and third:
“We challenge kids to be able to take courses that stretch their thinking ways that haven’t been done before,” says Aaron.
“It’s the perfect way to prepare them for the 21st century job market”
Thanks to its unique location, the Academy also has the advantage of enhancing students’ environmental awareness so that they’ll grow into responsible and sustainable global citizens.
In fact, the island is home to 11 of the world’s climate zones, a rich cultural history, an internationally renowned sea turtle research programme, and the “Olympics” of hula– so there’s never a shortage of experiential learning experiences!
That’s the HPA difference
Hawai’i Preparatory Academy does not believe in rigid formats of learning.
Instead, they make a real difference in students’ lives by offering out of the ordinary experiences and uncapping their learners’ creativity.
For instance, student Ford Stalsmith learned leadership skills from his watersports sessions.
“Working as a single unit in a canoe, fully united, is a valuable thing to learn. You have to put your ego aside and understand you’re part of something bigger,” he says.
Another student Violet Stevenson learned how to adapt to challenging times during her theatre projects.
“From rehearsals to performances, unpredictability is a major factor in everything you do, no matter your role,” she said.
“Being able to keep a cool head and positive demeanour helps everyone else stay calm.”
And through his real-world learning at HPA, Leighton Hind left with an appreciation for culture and teamwork.
“Sharing the history and stories of the land and ancestors, and being able to give back and work the same land as them …it’s amazing,” says Leighton.
Where students turbo-charge their learning
Inspiring location and experiences aside, there are many other ways in which students turbo-charge their learning at HPA.
One popular route that students from all over the world take to expand their academic potential is the Summer at HPA programme.
This summertime experience is open to all and offers a great introduction to the K-12 HPA curricula and supports students’ soft and hard skills development.
For instance, kindergarten to fifth-grade students will spend their summer participating in the creative arts, swimming lessons, games, gardening and hiking along majestic hills and mountains.
And students in grades six to 12 will attend classes that cover science and humanities, environmental sustainability, creative arts, English language instruction and much more!
All students will get to explore the famed mauka (mountain-side) and the makai (ocean-side) of the island, and they will learn the importance of collaboration and environmental sustainability.
As HPA student Torge Hilken from Germany says, “Teachers are not just teaching their material, they are also interested in you as a human and not just as a student.”
“They always offer a bunch of weekend activities. Those activities give you the chance to experience the beautiful nature of Hawai’i, like the volcanoes, remote villages, beautiful beaches, etc.”
But what truly brings the students together are the sharing sessions.
“It’s really important to end every project with a showcase event, where kids get to show off what they have created. It’s an important skill, plus it provides a real purpose, a sense of pride,” says third-grade teacher Bobby Baretto.
And when you speak to HPA students and alumni, pride to study and having studied there is what they all have in common.
“My life would have likely continued along the same, unchanging road had I not taken the risk and flown here to experience the vibrancy of HPA,” says Zhanserik Temirtashev from Kazakhstan.
“I have met wonderful people from all sorts of backgrounds, making me a more worldly individual in the process.”