Ten Skills Your Children Need To Survive Globalization

Success in the twenty-first century will require the development of skills and the acquisition of knowledge that seem foreign to us. Although we need not believe that everything we presently know will be worthless in a globalized economy, we must prepare as never before to face global competition. In order to keep up with the earth’s best and brightest, we’ll have to be smart, nimble, and wise, focusing our energy on the new circumstances before us.

The skill-development challenge is two-fold. First, adults who are young enough to be affected by a global marketplace will need to study hard to ensure that their skill sets don’t run out of gas before they’re ready to retire. Second, parents must find effective ways to prepare their children for an entirely new level of professional performance.

The good news is that we in the U.S. have the resources to invest in the acquisition of new-world abilities. Here is a list of things that will help parents guide their children toward acquiring the skills they will need to survive and thrive over the coming decades:

1. Focus on learning rather than on making grades.

Students in a globalized world must study to learn the subject matter and not simply to complete academic requirements. Too many young people concentrate on obtaining credits for the diploma or degree toward which they are working. Try to instill in your children a genuine appreciation for the substance of their coursework. They need to feel confident that what they learn will pay dividends later.

2. Develop the tools for self learning.

Under most systems of education, teachers spend the bulk of the class time on teaching the subject and little or no time on imparting how to study. At home and at school, from kindergarten all the way up the educational ladder, we should emphasize the development of self-learning skills.

3. Be punctual.

Many great people throughout history have pointed to punctuality as a cardinal virtue. Timeliness is a cornerstone of order, which is a principal goal for successful individuals and societies. If your children learn punctuality, they will do better at everything they attempt.

4. Save money.

Labor markets, stock markets, political events, and natural disasters sometimes catch us by surprise, and adapting to unexpected circumstances becomes unavoidable. Such adaptation is easier with some breathing room. The possession of savings allows time to regroup, retool, and retrain. Those who cannot buy time in such situations may be unable to make necessary adjustments.

5. Retain flexibility.

Acquiring the ability to adapt includes learning to avoid painting yourself into a corner. Young people who marry, take on debt, or have children before their financial situations are stable find it difficult to adapt to changing times. Encourage your children to think twice before making the bigger decisions of life. Avoiding major errors will help them retain the flexibility they will need to adjust to the changes that confront them.

6. Read, read, read.

Whether the medium is books, magazines, newspapers, e-books, or the Internet, the need to read will remain constant or increase throughout this century. Nothing will help an individual anticipate the twists and turns presented by the new world so much as reading broadly. Those who make reading a habit will have an opportunity to react to many of the changes as they happen. Those who do not will be running blind.

7. Develop a backup expertise.

Your child may be fascinated by a specific area of study, and the pursuit of dreams is certainly something you should encourage. The reality, though, is that no one should count on a single area of study’s lasting a lifetime. All of us need to develop at least one marketable backup skill or alternative expertise.

8. Use time wisely.

Time ticks away at an alarming rate, and as we grow older, we become increasingly conscious of its relentless hacking at our lives. If your kids learn to use their time well, they will be better prepared to face our changing world. Budgeting time efficiently will help them make the adjustments necessary to compete in a globalized economy.

9. Think outside the box.

To think creatively is probably the most difficult thing on this list to teach someone. Most likely, the best that parents can do is emphasize the need to be inventive and forward-thinking. Those who are innovative will be the ones most likely to succeed in a globalized world.

10. Be positive about adaptation.

Once you resolve to do it, adaptation is exciting. Those who understand that adaptation is never-ending will find the process to be stimulating. Teach your children adaptation, and positive energy will fill their lives.

Learning to adapt is neither optional nor easy. If we want our offspring to survive and thrive in this rapidly changing world, we must find ways to teach them to do it. Teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic is as important as ever, but parents should add to that list the skill of adaptation so that their children will enter this new century prepared for anything that comes their way.


11 comments… add one

  • Ann April 16, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Good article to share with my students. We have to pass on this info so our kids do more than just survive. Thanks, Doug.

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  • John Krzysztow April 17, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Your insightful ten steps are right on and I agree with you 100%. A couple of things that I might add would be .. Teaching Values with a moral compass.

    Combating peer-pressure is really more destructive then prayer when destructive behaviors are encouraged(drugs, alcohol, killing others to survive in the hood), finding the village, church, community, schools that helps kids grow and stop blaming politicians and money as the reason kids don’t learn, reform the educational institutions to really focus on our youth and not the self interest of the members of those institutions. Let’s put real teeth in transparency and not use it and then abuse it for political points. Let’s all start to tell the truth. Where we spend our dollars contributes to peer-pressure.

    Our Youth are our greatest Asset. Let’s learn how to best help them and not put so many obstacles in their way, we will lose our greatest opportunity to avoid Armagedon.

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  • Rocio Palacios April 17, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Me gusto mucho tu articulo, muy interesante.
    Todos los puntos que tocas son muy validos y estoy de acuerdo con ellos, podria sugerir al igual que uno de tus lectores el agregar los valores morales como otro punto de suma importancia. Algo que de suguro esta implicado en alguno de los puntos que tocas pero que para mi merece un enfasis por separado es el apreder otro u otros idiomas como algo vital para competir en un mundo globalizado.

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  • Duende April 17, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Gracias, Rocío, por leer el artículo y por tu comentario. Tu punto sobre los idiomas es muy válido, y si en el futuro publico el artículo de nuevo, lo incluiré como un renglón separado.

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  • James Schultz April 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Here at home it is a major struggle to get my 9 year old to focus on any thing but play. He, like a lot of students, is already on a course of disinterest in learning. In his school, and I think like a lot of others, homework and classwork all designed to regurgitate information for assessment tests and not truly focused on just exactly what you are suggesting is going to be a hurdle the education system will have a hard time getting over. Thus, we try harder and harder here at home to instill these basic concepts in our son. Geez, what a long way we have to go.

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  • dan April 18, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Nice piece, everyone gets down about globalization but you can easily compete if you really want to. Get off the couch and get engaged in something! Stop whining and work at something, you will make progress.
    Dan http://danpetrosini.wordpress.com

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  • Duende April 18, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Thanks, Dan. Becoming engaged in something truly is one of the keys to success. We’ve conditioned ourselves to getting things easily, and many of us have lost the ability to defer gratification. Working hard does not always give quick results, but in the end, it always pays off.

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  • Steve Sturdevant April 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks for this concise and thoughtful article. It is particularly helpful for the young person, and I found myself checking off what I have taught my son. The “old” skills of saving and reading will be important in the next generation because so many do not have these values. A second marketable skill is perhaps the most challenging of all, and quite necessary.

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  • Duende April 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Thanks, Steve! Good to hear from you!

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  • Dalene Bradford April 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    You might be interested in this article: College Learning for the New Global Century. I think their Essential Learning Outcomes on page 3 are excellent. Plus they don’t just focus on college; this type of learning must start earlier than that.


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  • duende44 April 25, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Thanks, Dalene! The article you cite is excellent. It’s comforting to know that someone is aware that we must do something soon to improve our system of education, if we are to keep up with the rest of the world. Defining what college graduates should know when they move into the work force is extremely important. One thing (not in the article) that is rarely mentioned is the resistance of university professors to actually teaching instead of focusing on pet projects. As long as professors continue to teach light class schedules and engage inexcessive travel and publication, the cost of attending college will continue to rise, and higher education will become ever more inaccessable to the average person. Thank you for your comment.

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