Research and policy


Edited version of Pursuit article featuring Dr Peggy Kern from the Centre for Positive Psychology  

Is emotional resilience a skill that can be taught to help the next generation prepare for the unpredictable workplace of the future?

Is emotional resilience a skill that can be taught to help the next generation prepare for the unpredictable workplace of the future?

Is emotional resilience a skill that can be taught to help the next generation prepare for the unpredictable workplace of the future?

As automation, globalisation and technological advances dramatically change the nature and availability of work – how do you prepare people for the jobs of the future?

A recent report by the Foundation for Young Australians found that these forces will affect every job by 2030. The report predicts that Australian workers will need more digital and mathematical skills – but they will need to balance this to be better writers and communicators, as well as better problem solvers and critical thinkers.

But the report also found that the traditional idea of a lifelong career in a stable workforce is a thing of the past, instead, people will need to be more flexible and less reliant on consistent work. In fact a 15-year-old today can expect to have upwards of 17 jobs in five different industries over the course of their working life.

Concerns about the changing shape of the workforce have educators and policymakers scrambling for ways to prepare the next generation for the new work order.

Responding positively to stress

The idea has become increasingly popular, particularly in the fields of education, psychology and business, with resilience education used as a way to help everyone from pre-schoolers to teenagers to CEOs to learn skills to cope, and even thrive, when faced with adversity.

Today’s 15 year old can expect to have up to 17 jobs in five industries over their working life.

Dr Peggy Kern, from the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Positive Psychology, is studying the implementation of the Victorian Department of Education’s Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships framework.

The initiative, which is now being rolled out across more than 100 Victorian schools, was designed by University of Melbourne Professor Helen Cahill in response to growing awareness about mental health issues experienced by children and teenagers.

The program includes lesson plans to help students from prep to Year 12 learn more about how to cope with stress, respond to bullying and deal with the myriad of non-academic challenges that come with growing up.

Thinking skills

Professor Gregor Kennedy, the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor of Teaching and Learning, says higher education systems have always had to find the right balance between teaching “thinking” skills, such as creative problem-solving and communication, as well as equipping students with the qualifications necessary to get a job.

It has always been up to educators to find the right balance, he says, whether you think technology is a disruptive influence or not.

Resilience education is still part of an ongoing conversation about strategies to prepare people for 21st century education and work, as well as the demands of increasingly digital social and professional lifestyles.

“Technology is kind of speeding everything up in many ways,” Dr Kern says. “We have to actually be able to adapt to things much faster than we did in the past.”



Edited version of Pursuit article written by Joanne Blannin, Digital Learning Leader, Melbourne Graduate School of Education

Australian schools are introducing the new Digital Technologies curriculum.

Australian schools are introducing the new Digital Technologies curriculum.

Soon parents around the country will start receiving reports that assess their child against the new Digital Technologies curriculum.

Every child from the first year of school to Year 10 will be working on this curriculum, although their skills will not be formally assessed until the end of Year 2 (7-year-olds).

Today’s students will need to confidently navigate a very different future – a digital, online world with a new language and approach to work and learning. As teachers, parents and leaders come to grips with the demands of this new curriculum, it is important to reflect on why there is a global shift towards teaching students about digital technologies themselves, rather than just how to use particular software or devices.

The new curriculum recognises that specific ways of thinking about problem solving are necessary for our country’s future success.

Developing technological fluency

When we log into the internet, whether through Facebook, Instagram, email or another tool, we enter spaces that have been created by people. Every online space has a unique culture, purpose and accepted way to interact. These are key aspects of technology use that we need to provide in schools. 

We would not send our students off to a foreign land and expect them to function as easily as they do at home. They would need to know the basics of the language, how to interact appropriately with others, how things work and generally how to act in the new culture. Similarly, we shouldn’t expect students to be fluent users of digital or online technologies simply because they play games and can search the internet.

Fluency with digital technologies means understanding how computers work, how they might be used to meet our needs, how we might repair or modify them and yes, even how to write computer programs to control them. This is a new type of fluency for the 21st Century.

The new curriculum

The new Digital Technology (DT) curriculum aims to develop confident and creative developers of digital solutions. There is a strong focus on creative technology use through its three learning strands: Digital Systems, Data and Information, and Creating Digital Solutions.

These three distinct strands are also connected to your child’s current learning areas. The digital systems strand has similarities to the patterns and systems identified by geographers, biologists and mathematicians. Data and information are equally used in mathematics and art, as data is created, displayed and understood.

Finally, digital solutions to problems are already part of many students’ learning. From an app that tracks litter in the school yard to an augmented reality walking trail that preserves the local history, solving problems is as much a thinking skill as it is a digital skill. The new curriculum recognises that specific ways of thinking about problem solving are necessary for our country’s future success. 

The new DT curriculum is not about creating a generation of computer programmers. It is about ensuring that every possible door is open to our students when they leave education to enter the workforce. Education needs to prepare students for their fast-changing, unpredictable and exciting futures. As the new curriculum is officially rolled out across Australia this year, I have strong hopes that this will be achieved.