The Critical Power Skills Needed for the AI Era

Teaching and Learning

The Critical Power Skills Needed for the AI Era


By Michalis Gkontas     Jan 24, 2024

The Critical Power Skills Needed for the AI Era

If you’re reading this, you might have AI anxiety.

A recent survey from EY research shows that 71 percent of employees with knowledge of artificial intelligence are concerned about it. Considering how AI has rapidly entered education conversations, teachers and administrators are certainly represented in this statistic.

Feelings of AI anxiety are valid for a technology that brings so much change and uncertainty. Tools like ChatGPT have quickly destabilized our thoughts about the future of school and work.

One role of schools is to prepare students for the future. But how can teachers and schools fulfill this obligation when the future is so uncertain?

The answer lies in zooming out.

Instead of teaching specific facts and skills, teach timeless skills that allow students to adapt to any challenge or solve any problem. These competencies have been valuable in the past, are essential in the present and will be crucial for thriving in the future.

Critical Skills in the Age of AI

Which skills is the natural next question.

Power Skills, which include creativity, collaboration, resilience, leadership and critical thinking, make all other skills more effective. These skills have always been valuable, as anyone with a professional background can attest to. But as AI automates more aspects of the current workforce, learning Power Skills is more important and powerful than ever.

Teaching students Power Skills now prepares them to succeed and adapt in an uncertain future. But it also provides them with a strong foundation for academic and personal success today.

Imagine if all students deliberately practiced and improved upon their skills of critical thinking and team-based problem-solving throughout the school day. Undoubtedly, their performance in other classes, extra-curriculars and even their home lives would have great potential for improvement.

As the social-emotional learning (SEL) movement has shown, providing students with flexible and practical abilities that don’t fall narrowly within core subject areas is increasingly important. While SEL is a great starting point and is included in Power Skills, it’s insufficient. Power Skills build on the interpersonal and transcend to the practical.

Students learn critical skills through NXTLVL's game-based learning program.

Make It Fun and Refreshing for Students

The great part about implementing Power Skills into K-12 education is that they are exciting and engaging for students to learn and practice. By definition, they require kids to work together, talk to each other and share unique and sometimes crazy ideas, all to solve interesting, challenging problems. This is sorely needed, as research shows students are more bored in school than ever.

Additionally, the opportunities to practice Power Skills are lacking from current methods of instruction. When 90 percent of class time is spent by teachers talking, there’s little room to practice collaboration or leadership. If what Sir Ken Robinson said about what schools do to creativity is true, then students need a chance to learn and practice the skill of creative thinking.

Power Skills are already widely discussed in the business and technology fields. However, their presence is sorely lacking in K-12 education. But the time for introducing them has never been better.

California School Embraces Power Skills

Meghan Freeman, CEO of Elite Academy, a California Distinguished School, wholeheartedly agrees.

"There’s so much changing in our world, especially now in the age of AI,” Freeman shares. “But we know that skills like leadership, creativity and decision-making never go out of fashion.

Importantly, Freeman notes how the introduction of technology like AI makes teaching Power Skills more timely than ever.

“As more of our work involves technology, these kinds of skills only become more important. That’s why we’re so excited about what our students are learning with NXTLVL."

A NXTLVL SEL game exploring the intricacies of thoughts, emotions and actions

How NXTLVL Gives Students a Head Start on the Future

Freeman mentions that Elite Academy students learn and practice Power Skills through NXTLVL’s immersive, team-based problem-solving program. During these live, student-led learning games, students learn how to decode complex problems and collaborate to arrive at optimal solutions.

The result is a unique way for students to leverage existing skills and knowledge they don’t often get to tap into in school while also learning new Power Skills that will serve them today and for years to come.

We can’t overlook STEM. We can’t pretend technology advancements in artificial intelligence and elsewhere aren’t happening. But we also can’t ignore the adjustments we may have to make to help students thrive in a future different from today.

In an uncertain future, teaching students Power Skills is one sure way to help them reach the next level.

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