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Skills of the Future

Wagner, an Expert in Residence at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab noted that the knowledge economy challenges workers with an overwhelming abundance of information, where the technologies are changing incessantly and the challenges are getting increasingly more complex.

As such, he asked leaders in multiple fields on what qualities they look for in employees for today’s workplace.  He got the 7 Survival Skills after talking to business, nonprofit, philanthropic and educational organisations.

  1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving;
  2. Collaboration across networks and learning by influence;
  3. Agility and adaptability;
  4. Initiative and entrepreneurialism;
  5. Effective oral and written communication;
  6. Assessing and analyzing information; and
  7. Curiosity and imagination.

For more details on these 7 skills, you can read “Design Thinking in the Classroom” by David Lee.  It is also available as an eBook on NLB app (for Singapore only).

Other resources here:

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Thought-Provoking: What is Education for?

No work on Education should start without understanding what is Education for!

I have had a chance today (23 March 2020) to sit at the Lifelong Learning Institute library and chanced upon the book “What is education for? The views of the great thinkers and their relevance today”.

It has been used in a very loose term – The Socratic Method, being to ask questions.  That is superficial.

In Socrates’ and Plato’s point of view, education is for enabling individuals to distinguish between good and evil, and between the truth and error and to search after wisdom and goodness in their own life, and in the life of their community. To Socrates, the key element in education is “self-examination” – an inquiry into oneself, one’s belief and actions that is lifelong and ends only with death.

Fifteen years after the death of Socrates, Aristotle was born (384 BC).

To Aristotle, the relationship between education and the state is fundamental to Aristotle’s view about education’s purpose.  The nature of the state will determine the type of education to be served; he is more concerned with the outline of education in an ideal state.

The purpose of the state and its education is the same; that human being should flourish and have lives that are successful, happy and virtuous.  He used the term “eudaimonia” to describe the highest human good, and usually translated as “happiness”.

Undoubtedly, Aristotle wanted people to live their lives to be engaged in satisfying and self-improvement activities, show good judgment, and was courageous, generous and wise, as oppose to a live strewed with just accumulation of wealth, or the pursuit of “vulgar” pleasures that did nothing to improve the mind or the soul.

Hence, he believed in the balance between different elements that make up a human being: his body, his appetites and desires, his habits, and his capacity for reasoning.  He saw the distinction between an education that is designed to habituated humans to a certain attitude, emotions, and patterns of behavior; verses the education that is designed to make them think.

The core purpose of education is, therefore:

The exercise of rational principle and thought is the ultimate end of man’s nature.  It is therefore with a view to the exercise of these faculties that we should regulate, from the first, the birth and the training in habits of our citizens.

That training is sequential, starting with the body, then the regulation of the appetites such as desire, anger, and self-will (irrational part of the soul), and ends with the training of the minds.

Aristotle believed the important role of “leisure” education – the form in which one pursues activities for their own sake; not as a matter of utility and necessity (Occupation).  He rated this as the highest form of human activity – the pursuit of intellectual excellence.

The 3 Stages of Education

In the contemporary assumption, education is seen as enabling children to live more satisfying lives while they are still children; and each stage (from primary to secondary, from secondary to higher education) as NOT to prepare for the next stage.  Aristotle identified three stages of education: 1) from age seven to puberty; 2) from puberty to age 21, and 3) from age 21 onwards, and each step is seen as a step in preparation for the next.

The education today is somehow misguided and mal-aligned to the needs of society.

At present opinion is divided’, he writes, ‘abut the subjects of education.  All do not take the same view about what should be learned by the young… If we look at actual practice, the result is sadly confusing; it throws no light on the problem whether the proper studies to be followed are those useful in life, or those which make for goodness, or those which advance the bounds of knowledge.  Each sort of study receives some votes in its favour; none of them has a clear case.

The book shares a great deal on other philosophers, their thinkings adapted to their times; applicable even to today (e.g. John Locke, p.76-79)

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The 8 Smart Habits I do

It takes 33 of constant and continual practice to turn it into a habit.  When it becomes a habit, you can be on auto-pilot.  For example, you can drive and talk to your passengers at the same time.  Below is a collection of my habits, my closely guarded secrets to my personal effectiveness and wellness that is shared for the first time.

  1. Having Clarity;
  2. Meditation
  3. Sleep;
  4. Cold Baths;
  5. Drink water;
  6. Exercise;
  7. Time Control
  8. Journaling


Having clarity in what you want to achieve, what you want to do (or not do), and it has to be crystal clear.  You are in no way to cheat yourself of what you desire; it is, therefore, to be defined without any doubts.  Whenever you say “I want to…”, I fuse it with “time” and “measurable outcome”.  I want to complete my book on “Coping with Death” by 3 weeks before the 7 June 2020, so that it can be launched on that day.  The keys are “complete” and “3 weeks before the 7th June 2020”.  You may ask me to define “Complete” – well, that involves all the manuscript, corrections, proof-reading, printing and binding of the book.  Why 3 weeks ahead?  Because it takes time for the printer firm to have your book in a physical copy.

One of the reasons why success is beyond reach is due to the lack of clarity.  Brendan Burchard, in his book, High Performance Habits, ruled that Clarity is one of the 6 key ingredients to High Performance – wi=hich he defined as “succeeding beyond the standard norms consistently over the long term.”


I have signed up for the Mindfulness Foundation Course at Brahm Centre@Macpherson starting 2 Apr 2020.  It will only cost me SGD$32.  I was never an advocate of Meditation and Mindfulness until I start to read Carol S. Dweck on MindSet and other books on MindSight and Mindfulness.  As I have bipolar disorder (this is no secret now), I am always very aware of my mental state.  Am I going into a Maniac mode; I am going down to depression?  Meditation, I am still trying hard, do help me to keep focus.  Every time I meditate in the early hours of morning (I wake up around 4.30 am or 5 am), I would try to meditate for 5 minutes – to calm myself and prepare for the day.  The mind will wander; it is alright and then I bring it back to focus on my breathing and the vision of air exiting my nose.


…to be continued.

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SMART Tips: Four Essential Skills/Approaches for Smart Learning

Whether you are in Primary School or at the university level, as long as you are learning, there are always ways to make yourself learn better.

Here are 4 essential skills and approach I take, FYI.

Study Skills – When I was taking my Masters of Science in Management of Technology at the National University of Singapore, the learning journey was riddled with challenges of reading academic papers – luckily I have some success in Speed Reading (not just read fast, it must come with comprehension) – and Jim Kwik from MindValley is super in it.  Now, I can literally read 3-4 books per week, from 1-2 books per month.  (yes, there are a few books that will be teaching me how to do nothing if you scrutinize the titles on the top deck).

The other one is Team-Work (from Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing – I tend to skip the fifth and last one).  Harvard Business Review shared on the 3 important critical success factors to Team performance: a compelling direction, a strong structure, and a supportive context. This will allow you to better value the power of group vs. team; how to reach consensus, how to agree to disagree, and achieve self- and team- success.

Another skill I think is important, is Notes-Taking.  Many students even use the same color as the ink showed on the MS Powerpoint in their notes.  Do look at the Two-Column Note-Taking method (from Cornell University) + 5Rs (Record, Reduce [Question], Recite, Reflect, Review) via Google or your favorite search engine.

I also see much value in the use of “Bullet Journal – to better help you to focus your time and effort on what is important and urgent.

Let me know via comments below if it has any impact on you?


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Do it Smart: “Staple” 2 pieces of papers without Staple

When you need to staple 2 or more pieces of papers together but you do not have a Stapler, or you ran out of staplets.

See this video on how I did it during the “Start at the Top” workshop.

There are probably 1001 ways to do it, but I did it my way (lyrics of a song).

My book will teach you more with links to videos like this under the resources chapter.

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Do It Smart: Math: Multiple 2 large numbers

We are tied down to the “usual” ways of doing things.  This is how we were taught in school, in our family (passed down from traditions, cultures, politics, etc.).

Did you ever ask if you can do something faster and in a different way?

Take a look at this:

Now, let’s see a faster and easier way (with ample training, you can even do it mentally).

There are such tricks for Addition, Subtraction, Division, Square Root, etc.  I will show you in my Book – under the Chapter on Smart Kids.