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The curricula of our schools are no longer up to date

Lawyer, mechatronics technician, architect – when asked about their dream job, young people always name traditional professions.

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The curricula of our schools are no longer up to date

Lawyer, mechatronics technician, architect – when asked about their dream job, young people always name traditional professions. Much of this will remain wishful thinking, because a number of jobs will fall victim to digitization and automation in the coming years. Actually clear. And yet the career aspirations of young people have practically not changed in the past 20 years. The labor market does.

In the future, professional life will be characterized by constant change and technological progress. Knowledge is becoming obsolete at an ever increasing rate, information is being shared worldwide in a matter of seconds via the Internet. Computers have long been better at handling repetitive tasks. We have to prepare our children for this and make them fit for a time of change.

Our daughters and sons will have to solve complex problems for which there is no blueprint. You must be able to react spontaneously to unforeseen circumstances. The ability to find new ways becomes the most important competence. You need ingenuity instead of thinking according to formula.

Algorithms calculate many times faster than humans, but they are hopelessly inferior to us when it comes to creativity. Algorithms do not develop new products and do not even dream of going to Mars.

When reading curricula, however, one inevitably gets the feeling that our school system is not prepared for this. In a recent large-scale survey conducted by the Research Institute for Educational and Social Economics on behalf of Cornelsen-Verlag, four out of five school principals complained that the curricula in our schools were no longer up to date.

Of course, German, foreign languages, mathematics and natural sciences will continue to form the basis of professional success in the future. In the digital age, however, it is just as important to deal with new technologies, to familiarize yourself with new topics and to solve problems independently.

Many schools strive to teach such skills. But at the end of the day, the certificate shows grades for individual subjects, not for overarching competencies. And that will be more important than ever in the future.

But what does it take to find one's way in this highly technical working world of the future? The ability to solve complex problems, plus resilience and creativity. Honestly, schools don't really teach any of these skills at the moment.

Because they are already fully occupied with imparting the concentrated material from their curricula. And then we parents are increasingly stuffing our children's afternoons with cramming or tutoring, organizing what little free time we have left.

Let's do it differently. Our children would be helped a lot if we weren't constantly helping them. If we give them the chance to make mistakes. And so to learn.

The remote control car does not work? Let your child do it. The youngsters don't understand the rules of a game? He will find them out - or perhaps invent completely new ones. And in this way learn to solve complex problems.

It doesn't help our children if we do the homework with them step by step, just so that they don't do anything wrong. On their own, they may find new ways, albeit in a roundabout way. And thus develop self-confidence in their own problem-solving skills.

Then there is what is perhaps the most important skill for the working world of the future: creativity. Anyone who sees children playing knows that it is in everyone. That's what makes us so unique.

But under the pressure of class work and homework, there is hardly any room left for ingenuity. He who avoids mistakes does not become inventive. If we want to encourage innovative thinking, we have to give our children freedom and time to try out new things.

The world of work and the pace of change are exhausting. Our children will need a high degree of resilience in order to later survive difficult life situations without injuries. To do this, we need to give them self-confidence and confidence. And encourage them to take a free, unobstructed look ahead.

Hermann Hesse had his Siddhartha say: "When someone searches, it often happens that his eye only sees the thing he is looking for. (...) But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal.” That is exactly what we should give our children with a view to the future professional world.

The question about the dream job is wrong because it narrows the view. We suggest to our children a linear career that they will never experience. We limit their options by focusing on a specific profession.

Instead, our children should realize that they probably don't even know the right job yet. The realistic answer to the question about the dream job today is therefore: "I don't know. But I'll find out!"

Sebastian Dettmers is CEO of the job portal Stepstone (like WELT AM SONNTAG belongs to Axel Springer) and author. Swantje Dettmers studied psychology and later did his doctorate at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. As a scientist, she has researched, among other things, homework and the importance of the parental home for school education. Today she works as a psychological consultant in a foundation for talent recognition and promotion.

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