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Our V.U.C.A World

Our complex world these days is often explained by the acronym V.U.C.A. Meaning, volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity. The four different types of challenge demand four distinct types of approach (HBR 2014). The acronym was introduced by the US American army war college to describe the world after the end of cold war. The word gained accepted in regular parlance around the 1990’s.  But really, can we blame everything on V.U.C.A? Or is it sometimes just poor planning, lack of foresight or adaptability?

As we train students, perhaps we must look and understand the dynamic advancement, unpredictability and increasing complexity of this fast-changing world that they will one day inherit and nurture.

Times are changing, job opportunities are changing. How are we preparing our students for this volatility? Are we up to speed with the developments happening around us ourselves?  It is becoming clearer with each passing day that our classrooms can no longer remain isolated islands. Because we are not comfortable with the use of technology ourselves, we block the use of it also for our students. Our pretext, that it is not required, or it will be misused, or it is distracting for students and will not support them in assessments. What we need to remember is that we can thrive only if we are willing to embrace the new and rapidly evolve.

Uncertainty can be met with flexibility, innovation and adaptability.  The ability to see opportunities where others don’t is what we must train our students for.

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. Voltaire 

Increasing complexity demands increasing need for communication. Have we not as a specie survived due to our innate talent for collaboration. Greater collaboration and empathy to meet the dynamic challenges that emerge is a skill that is needed today more than ever. Our teaching therefore in an industrial setup will no longer work. While there has been a slight shift from the commonly seen auditorium seating in a classroom to a group seating, we are still missing the bus if we do not allow our students to take greater control of their learning. Teaching even now is unidirectional. From teacher to student. Social media, as the name suggests, should be used for social connect. Facebook for collaborative projects, twitter for building their own learning community, snapchat for learning and sharing ideas. Let’s face it, the bar has been lifted. Equilibrium has been changed. Teaching is no longer unidirectional.

Think, plan, experiment, reflect. Collect information, process it, build awareness and move on. Developing objectivity without biases resolves ambiguity. ‘IKEA Effect’ named in a Yale/Harvard/Duke research study demonstrates that we see value in what we create. Students will take ownership of their learning if they are involved and invested in creating their own learning. Similarly, teachers with greater autonomy will see more value in things they have helped create, possibly leading to more interest in its successful outcome.

Change is the only constant! Develop a growth mindset.

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SketchNote on the V.U.C.A World

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