In the past twenty years, the world has transformed.
Communication has been the key to this transformation. It has shrunk the size of the world to amazing extent. Who could have thought that you could see people in real time from half way across the world? Who could have thought that complicated operations could be performed with a surgeon directing other surgeons by looking at live feed on a glass screen? It is a world without boundaries or seams. There is always help available. In the course of our normal routine, we would never be cut off from other people.
[On an aside, this is an ideal ground to breed dependency. When someone is always available to pull you out of a hole or extricate you from a tight place, you don’t need to use your own brain. Personal resourcefulness and innovation, hardly ever used, could atrophy from disuse. Unless you are vigilant, you could become mentally lazy.]
Communication has concentrated the world and converted it into buttons under our fingers. There is nobody you may not reach. No doors bar your entry to places you once only dreamed of. I heard a word sometimes back in another context, which seems appropriate here. We live in an increasingly boundaryless world.
Technologically, we have no idea what the world of tomorrow will look like. The rate at which technological innovations are happening, we can’t even be sure what the world will look like in five years, leave alone twenty. Innovation is triggering innovation. The tempo is multiplying. The world is transforming exponentially. Express elevators have nothing on us anymore.
As parents and educators, we are trying to prepare today’s children for the world of tomorrow. When we have no idea what that world would look like, how can we prepare them? A child who is twelve years old today will join the human workforce in ten- thirteen years. What kind of world do you think s/he will find?
We can’t know what tomorrow’s world would focus on. We have no idea what will drive tomorrow’s workforce. We can only make educated guesses about the dynamics of the world to come- and we could be completely wrong.
Surely, though, there must be some human skills which will remain important. They might be enhanced or diluted, they may change their form, but they will remain the same in substance.
Mankind’s need to connect; to hear and be heard; to forge enduring bonds and to communicate love, pain or joy; will always remain an essential need. If children need to be prepared to face that world, we must teach them the importance of making and supporting connections.
We must teach them how to identify nurturing connections and reject damaging ones. We must teach them to reopen closed channels to other hearts. They must know how to recognize the right people and to build bridges to them. They must also know how to raise their draw- bridges which inadvertently connected them to those who injure, mar and destroy. We must arm them with the courage to seek new connections which will multiply them. They must be equipped with compassion so that they will make the effort to repair broken bridges. They must be instilled with hope so that they would never give up on their search for meaningful connections.
In the past twenty years, the methods of establishing, fostering and nurturing connections may have changed. Social media may have taken the place of physical, face- to- face communities. The virtual may have nudged the real away from the primary domain of connection. The importance of connections hasn’t changed much. The changes has been cosmetic, not deep within.
These skills are timeless; as relevant today as they would be tomorrow.