I have kids – three in fact. And as they grow, they ask more questions; but, as they hit their tweens and their teens, they stop asking questions and choose to provide you with all the answer instead. As a parent, questions and answers seem to be the ping-pong game we continuously find ourselves playing. Ironically, not with our children as much with ourselves.
Mark Levy, founder of Playbox
I have questioned my decision-making as a parent ad nauseam; I have second guessed more than half my answers and verdicts; I have asked myself countless times if I’m teaching my kids the right way – and if I’m not teaching them the right way, then who is.
There’s no denying it: today is a challenging world for teens to grow up in, particularly when it comes to life skills. Aside from an array of societal and systematic challenges, from funding to textbooks, a number of South African schools struggle to provide deeper-truth, quality education for our kids who are in urgent need of a variety of skills that will help to ensure they can succeed when they eventually enter the working world.
What sort of skills are these exactly? Traditionally, formal education systems, such as high schools, have focused on developing hard skills with a view that this will better contribute towards learners’ future careers; skills like language, math and computer skills. This is necessary, yes, but what about the soft skills?
In my own life, being a stalwart of education, I’ve pursued many educational ventures and self-development avenues and my frequent discovery is that traditional education channels often fall short when it comes to teaching the necessary soft skills, alongside formal academia because they’re already so overwhelmed.
As a nation, we want our teens (and our people) to be successful in their future careers. And we also need them to be prepared for life, and hopefully well-rounded individuals. I believe that achieving this requires a healthy mix of both hard and soft skills that enable learners to become meaningful contributors to society, equipped with tools they will use in a multitude of contexts and conversations over the course of their lives.
According to studies, employers in Africa say that graduates tend to overlook essential soft skills development when undertaking their degrees and unfortunately, this can negatively affect their ability to find work. This suggests that there is great benefit for future career prospects, and societal contributions, for our learners to get a head start on the development of both sets of skills, while they’re still in school.
The key to ensuring they learn the necessary soft skills, for me, is to educate through storytelling, while adding some entertainment all the same – which is why I’m so passionate about online learning platforms that offer this. My passion project, Playbox, is this exact model. Not only does it supplement traditional in-school learning in a way that is engaging and entertaining, but it also allows learners of all ages to master an array of soft skills in their own time, at their own pace, while witnessing the stories of some of South Africa’s greatest icons.
So, here’s what I know about the importance of soft skills in our schooling environment, and the role it plays in all our lives:
Five hard facts about soft skills
- 80% of recruiters say the ability to adapt is becoming increasingly vital in the workplace
- 9.7 million employees experienced workplace conflict in 2018 to 2019
- 90% of employees are more likely to stay with a company that empathises with their needs
- Attitude is the number one important factor when hiring new employees
- Courage is one of the top seven qualities recruiters look for in the hiring process
I’m proud to say I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with some of South Africa’s most respected icons while working on and building Playbox. We need more mentorship like this. We need more respect for the skills they don’t teach us in school. We need more recognition of the wonderful ideas storytelling can teach us.
Given the daily challenges we face, in the office and out of it, it’s time for education that does it differently – that is like no other. Not only for our kids, but for us as well.