The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

Adaptability – The Skill of the Future

It has been exciting to see the students return to school full of energy and enthusiasm for the year ahead. No doubt they have considered a new goal or two for the upcoming year, whether that be academic, sporting, service or interpersonal.  However, as most of us would be aware, through our post New Year’s resolution failed attempts, goal setting is often the easy part; it is the follow through that proves challenging. This is not usually because the goals were unrealistic or unachievable, it’s because young people may not yet have developed the important strategies to be able to plan and implement change. Unless the intended change quickly becomes a habit or a disposition, our students are likely to revert to their old ways and before long the goal is thrown into the too hard basket.

However, understanding the process of change and teaching our young people to affect change is probably one of the most useful skills this generation will hold heading into the future. So much so that measuring a person’s adaptability in terms of their emotional and social intelligence is now considered relevant to understanding their potential. Adaptability is considered an important leadership competency that entails having the flexibility to handle change, balance multiple demands and adapt to new situations with fresh ideas. It means adaptable people are more responsive to the situation or problem they are confronted with and can more readily generate new ideas.   

Scotch is addressing this need by explicitly teaching important skills, such as those required to adapt, through our Approaches to Learning. Teaching adaptability is a prime example of how we can combine the skills found in our Thinking, Self-management and Research curriculum to help students respond effectively to change or to drive change. Some of the skills relevant to this are;

  • Resilience: practise dealing with change (Self-management)
  • Compare, contrast and draw connections among resources (Research)
  • Practise observing carefully in order to recognise problems (Thinking)
  • Revise understanding based on new information and evidence (Thinking)
  • Consider ideas from multiple perspectives (Thinking)

Skills form the foundation of the habits and disposition that we want our students to possess and it is therefore important that schools provide an opportunity to learn about the skill through both explicit teaching and practise. Taught through the lens of the subject content, skills provide strategies that are transferable between disciplines so that students learn how to learn in many different contexts. To become competent, we need a combination of knowledge, skills, values and attitude in order to be able to generate action in the real world and it is this successive action that empowers our learners to be independent. This journey is the responsibility of every adult involved in developing the talents of our young people and through teaching them the skills to think, act, communicate and learn independently we are providing them with the strongest platform from which to launch into adulthood.