Expert Q&A | Rob McEwen

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Q: What 21st-century skills can better prepare students for the future?

A: I wouldn't call them 21st-century skills. I'll just call them skills. I think you have to be curious. The more curious, the better. You should have a wide range of interests. You have to be able to focus and persistently stay focused. Those I think will put you in good stead. The other thing is being passionate about what you're doing. You don't want to do something you don't like doing because you won't do it well.


Q: What are some of the challenges in teaching these kind of skills today?

A: One of the big challenges is the sensory overload. The multi-tasking I think is a good skill, but there's this almost slavish devotion to a cellphone. And it really blocks out a lot of other areas in believing that's the entire world... The challenge is the way that life has started with technology. I watch my son and he's always on his cellphone, and he'll be listening to music, he'll be watching TV and doing his homework, and I'd say that's good but I don't think you're getting as far as you could be going.

Q: How will the role of schools and educators change as these skills become more integral for students to have?

A: The biggest gift a school could give to a student would be the confidence to try, to put their step forward and not be afraid to fail. I think schools today are very much based on marks, and they're not the experimental arena that you need to gain the confidence to go forward confidently in trying whatever you want to do.

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