Putting the 'now' into knowledge: the 4 cognitive skills you need now

As I put my children to bed each night, I have 2 questions that are as routine as, ”Have you brushed your teeth yet?!” and “Have you put your dirty clothes in the laundry basket?!”

My questions for the pillow-time are, “What are you proud of today?” and “What have you learned today?” Whilst my son might start by recalling his prowess & new tricks on his new ‘triple-bearing’ Diabolo (playground hit du jour) he knows that what I’m really after is a little story to help him reflect on his day with a sense of purpose.

Whilst he doesn’t know it, in our dimly-lit ‘Mummy-chats’, I’m not interested in what he has achieved per se or simple facts absorbed, what I care more about is how his day has mattered to him, and what he has learned about himself.

It sounds a rather grand ambition but as we all are aware, information has become a commodity. Anything we care to learn is at the touch of a button. So, success no longer revolves around what we know but, now, how good we are at connecting that information with what we already understand and turning it into personal knowledge in order to be ready for the next challenge.

We need to help our children with the skills to ready them for unpredictability. Even the CBI, this week, issued a report calling for radical changes to schools. They argue we need to produce, “rounded and grounded young people who have the skills and behaviours that businesses want, with more emphasis on skills people need for life and work.”

In order to succeed now, I believe we need to support a new type of learning at school, in higher education, and of course in our customer-centred capability programmes at Brand Learning. It’s a new type of know-how. The most successful of us will be building our abilities in cognitive skills such as:

  • Reflecting & Interpreting: The ability to look at events and data with clarity & objectivity
  • Connecting & Assimilating: The ability to prioritise and combine thoughts in creative ways to create logic & flow
  • Diagnosing & Judging: The ability to evaluate situations and options based on reason, intuition & prediction
  • Structuring & Articulating: The ability to organize, plan & communicate for influence

The new certainty is uncertainty. As we constantly learn and provide learning solutions, in our attempts to support adaptability, the answers won't be in the information we find but in how we deal with newly acquired knowledge. Improving our cognitive skills will ensure we make sense of the exciting and unpredictable place that is now. As you're hitting the pillow tonight, ask yourself what are you proud of and what have you really learned today.

For more information about how Brand Learning can help you lift your organisation’s capabilities, please get in touch or contact me directly on LinkedIn. You may also like these films, perspectives and resources on Learning.

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