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Your Greatest Asset – Your Human Capital

In today’s world we take too much notice of the outputs and not enough emphasis on the outcomes of the work done. Our job as educators and parents or caregivers is to create citizens, for the world that we can’t foresee. Most of all, people will need to have developed the ability to adapt to a changing world and for the changing individual circumstances that we know lie ahead.

The important things continue to be an ability to stare adversity and challenge full in the face because you expect them, and then be sufficiently nimble and agile to navigate your way through the stormy waters. All this needs to be done while ensuring you remain true to yourself and the values that you hold dear, but also the cultural norms of the current day and context you are living and working within.

Trophies, certificates and academic results, as I said last in last week’s opinion piece, are nice to have as outputs but what we hope is left after all the celebration of achievement are outcomes, the learning of skills and capabilities that prepare us better for life.

The recent article in the NZ Herald on Wednesday, 9 May which focuses on investing time and energy in the best investment you can make links closely with my recent sabbatical research project. What skills do we want our young people to graduate with from within the Te Atatu Community of learning and from Rutherford as the apex school in this agreement?

Warren Buffet the world’s richest man reckons investment in your own human capital is the way to go; “it’s the king of investment, impervious to the rising tides of taxation and inflation; the one you can’t beat that will offer an evergreen return on your investment. Nobody can take away what you’ve got in yourself, and everybody has potential they haven’t used yet.”

So if you were gifted an extra hour in every day how would you use it. I am hoping it would be something for yourself, exercise, reading or taking up something that you really want to do but always use the “I don’t have time” excuse for. My answer is reprioritise and if it is something that is a dream make it a goal and therefore give it a deadline. If it is that important that if somehow you would use the gift of 1 extra hour in a day like this, then surely it is worth kicking something out of the current 24 hours and make room for advancing your human capital.

The reality is, the better you look after yourself the better in the long run you will be placed to look after those important to you. So invest some time in yourself and feel better for it. The theme is about developing grit or “I will give that a go”. Society cares nothing for quitters. At Rutherford we want students who understand that you either develop grit or you become the dirt. You either take resistance on, and grow stronger, or you blow in the wind and disappear.

I think we are at a crossroads in education, and society, where we need a balance of being there to support our tamariki. But have we swung too far and as a result, enabled some into a learned helplessness? Do we do too much for them? I believe the society we live in is better than the one I grew up in as a teenager because we and particularly our awesome young people are much more tolerant of differences. That said have we gone a little soft and removed obstacles and challenges from their path and are we doing them a disservice in doing this?

I believe that if we want to continue to learn and grow, then it’s part of the job of life to invest time in developing as individuals beyond what the “current” looks like. It is about developing grit or that can and will do attitude, it’s about compassion, gratitude for the things we have and not resentment for the things we don’t etc. If we invest as we need to in our biggest asset, ourselves, as people with the view to being good who others know can be trusted and relied upon –  this is the goal of education. Learning does not stop when students move on from formal education. Skill development including emotional and moral intelligence in the moments of triumph and disaster (and all the bits in between) are the outcomes that we need to focus on as we prepare young people for the real world.

Good outcomes create the foundation for good outputs. The skills, regardless of context will remain and this allows that all important ability to be adaptable and to have the required agility for the modern world.

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