We have the opportunity to speak to Richard Gerver, an Internationally Renowned Speaker, Consultant & Author in the Education & Corporate Sector. Gerver shares his perspective on global issues confronting children of today and tomorrow and how we can prepare them for success in an ever-changing world.
1. Hi Mr Richard, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I used to be a school principal with children up to 11 years old for a good seven years. During that period of time, I created a very creative school. I moved on to be speakers specializing in human capacity, education and leadership.
2. With your expertise, what to you foresee are the global issues that are confronting our children of today and the near future? Please explain.
There are a number of things that are threatening our children, but the main problems are issues about environment, community and social economics. These are arising issues that children need to deal with as adults. Thus, today’s children are growing very differently from our times, theirs are at an accelerated rate.
To be able to cope, children need to be highly creative, a good problem-solver and risk-taker. Parents need to be educated in order to help their child succeed.
3. How will these issues affect them – in their childhood and adult life?
It starts from childhood, where young children need to be educated not just academically but in terms of the different aspects of their development, in order to raise a whole child. In order words, education should also develop and enhance children’s creativity, flexibility and problem-solving opportunities. When they are adults, they will be able to apply these skills. These soft skills are hard currency of the 21st century that determines success of failure!
4. How can parents play a part to develop a child that is creative, flexible and a good problem-solver?
As parents, we should see each child as an individual, stop worrying or comparing that your child should be the same as others or learn at the same rate as other kids. Children develop at a different rate, we should celebrate as they explore not pressurizing them.
Most parents place a strong emphasis on the academic aspect and neglect the other important dimensions. We should encourage other dimensions and give equal attention to it such as allowing your child to make mistakes. They learn nothing new if they make no mistakes. Thus, we should encourage and support our children to learn through their mistakes – turn it into a constructive discussion or open conversation instead of punishing them.
Respect their human right and their mind of their own.
5a) In your opinion, when is the most suitable age to start preparing our children for success?
Children are born with these soft skills and further developed up to 80-85% during the first 5 years of their life before they begin formal education.
b) How do we go about doing it?
As parents, do not restrict them but encourage them and set the environment for them to learn and develop. Asking active questions help the child to think and be creative, which will, in turn, stimulate their brain development.
6. In the recent years, there is a growing trend where parents are sending their child to different learning programs (enrichment programs, brain development classes), what are your views on it?
Learning should be fun, interesting and valuable to our child. If we push them too hard, there will be a point that they will repel and they fall out of love with learning. That is when learning becomes a chore for them! Thus, we should provide the right environment for life-long learning in order to nurture life-long learner.
7. What advices or tips would you give to parents to prepare and equip their child for success in the 21st century?
1. To relax and allow your child to grow according to their pace. Keep asking and engaging them in active conversations. Constantly challenging their thinking and resist from providing them the answer.
2. Allow child to make mistakes, celebrate their ability to learn through these mistakes.
3. Childhood should not be a chore! Provide healthy environment for children to strive and grow.
4. Don’t project your aspiration on your child – prepare them to live their life and not yours.
By Crystal Tan.
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