Josh Langley

What’s the secret to creating a better society?

It’s no secret what values I think we should be teaching kids, mainly because I want the world to be a better place than it is now.

Even though I can’t change much about the idiocy the world is currently experiencing, I can have a small impact on the kids of today so they can have a massive impact on the world as they grow up.

It’s not rocket science to understand how empathy, kindness, emotional regulation, self-awareness, creativity, curiosity, and gratitude can have on a person’s wellbeing, let alone on a whole society.

However, seeing that these have always been classed as ‘soft skills’, they’re deemed as lesser or treated as optional extras – even unnecessary by some people.

While there is a plethora of social and emotional learning programs that promote soft skills, they’re not as revered as English, science and maths are and therefore easily ignored or treated as ‘look we have to tick some boxes, so squeeze it in where you can’.

Yes, the core subjects are important but soft skills are the core of what it means to be human.

And we’re all human, not mere machines for taking in data and regurgitating it.

What we should be testing

Which brings me to NAPLAN and other standardised testing. I want to see something radical happen that will have a much bigger impact on a child’s success.

Let’s assess whether a child can:

  • Notice and understand their emotions, so they can safely manage their anger leading to a less destructive society.
  • Build mental resilience by being mindful of their negative internal thoughts and have the skills to turn them around.
  • Develop kindness and empathy for others by putting themselves in another person’s shoes.
  • Learn to accept themselves, and in doing so, are more likely accept other people for who they are.
  • Let their curiosity, creativity, and imagination lead to them to create new innovations, inventions and different forms of self-expression.
  • Learn to feel more connected to other people and the world around them thus developing a sense of belonging and purpose.  

Imagine if those skills were given equal billing alongside the ‘core’ subjects. How different would the world look then?

But when education is viewed only through the narrow lens of economic rationalism, meaning the only reason we’re teaching kids anything is so they can be valuable contributors to the economic machine when they get older, we end up creating a society that’s empty of human values and purpose.

That’s where we are now.

But it doesn’t have to stay that way.

The answer is so simple, even I can do it.

Lift up and value the skills of empathy, kindness, emotional regulation, self-awareness, creativity, curiosity, and gratitude.

They’re human values for a human race.

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