Nam Ngo Thanh is now working as the principal at Inspire School, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He has authored multiple articles, and he has been nationally and internationally recognized for the implementation of creativity and the integration of technology into his teaching. He is the founder of many global projects Five Safe Fingers, Kindness Everyday, Stem, SGDs in actions. In 2015, he was presented with the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Award, and in the same year, he represented Vietnam at the Microsoft Global Forum. He is Microsoft Master Trainer, Skype Master Teacher, and Microsoft Learning Consultant. He works passionately to develop creative approaches to delivering quality education to his students in ways that inspire them to learn. He has been selected in the top 50 Global Teacher Prize Finalists and he is also the winner of Asia Educator of the year 2017, 2018 Global Innovation Collaboration Award, and Digital Citizenship Champion.
The concept of VUCA does not exist in the Vietnamese language, but in recent years it has gained popularity as a term to refer to different aspects of the “uncontrollable” environment. VUCA is made up of the first letter of four words: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. This world requires each of us to be highly adaptable, to accept change at any time, and to be able to cope with rapid changes. What we see today will become the slowest changes in the future. The hardest part of change is not in accepting the new but in letting go of the old. Change must mean transformation, otherwise, it will just be the electrification of the past.
In the VUCA era, there are usually two ways of working: tactical performance, and adaptive performance. The first way is to do better than what we are doing. The second way is to find ways to create a different future for students. VUCA world brings an impact in all industries and education is not outside that common influence, especially during the period of the Covid-19 pandemic, the image of the VUCA world is clearer than ever. In today’s technological age, when even machines can interfere with human thought processes, learning more knowledge is not the solution. Instead, schools and families need to change their thinking and ways of educating children. Teaching is no longer merely the transmission of knowledge but should create conditions for each child to become a learner and a self-learner. The educational process no longer focuses on theories from textbooks but must delve into the areas of interest of learners, the strengths they have acquired, thereby forming transferable skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, etc. help them to adapt in an uncertain world of present and future.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also shown a gap in traditional education – which creates human resources that lack many important knowledge and skills and are difficult to adapt to the changes of the times. No child can “swim” in the midst of a world that is always full of changes, and they need a foundation to succeed. The responsibility of schools and families is to create a launching pad for children to succeed in an uncertain world.
The best way schools can approach preparing students to adapt and survive in the VUCA world is not by focusing on the future but by focusing on the present. Focus on the children who are in front of us today – their strengths, unique perspectives, and interests. Create an environment in which children are empowered, appreciated, loved, and recognized. They participate in experiences through which they can apply their strengths to develop their abilities, character, and beliefs, allowing them to make choices to creatively solve problems topics that interest them. One important thing we need to keep in mind is that children have every right to fail in a safe environment. It is the process of trying, making mistakes and adjusting that will help students have authentic and profound experiences in the learning process.
Parents are encouraged to teach their children to be proactive in life, to encourage all creativity. Procrastination and passivity, in which children think everything is always going well, is a familiar trap that makes it difficult for them to adjust to a turbulent new world. Parents should also give their children the right to make some decisions about themselves and help them understand their personalities, preferences, and limitations.
When families and schools create an authentic experiential environment that will prepare them to unleash their full potential, curiosity, creativity, and habits in the face of the future VUCA world, it is hard to imagine that we don’t even have a plan in place.
The article uses some information compiled by Ms. Thu Hong – A primary school teacher in the US.