The world is changing faster than ever. Between technological milestones and climate change, our children will be confronted with a world totally different from the one we know. In reality, Two-Thirds of Today’s Children Will Have Jobs That Don’t Yet Exist, IMF Says. However, traditional education cannot keep up with this rate of change. To prepare children for an unpredictable future, we need education to change dramatically. This is the goal of NXTLVL. Its innovative complex play-based learning after-school program helps kids develop right now the vital skills for the future, which they will have to face tomorrow.
Konstantinos Papazafeiropoulos, Founder and CEO of NXTLVL, explains that “we cannot overcome the challenges of 2050 with a pedagogy of 1950. Traditional education does not provide students with the right environment to develop essential skills to deal with a world that is much more complicated than ever. Children must learn to think creatively, understand rapidly changing environments, and work together to solve complex problems with no clear solution.”
“That’s why NXTLVL adopted a new pedagogical approach. A method in which children learn to solve real-world problems, not pass exams. Where they learn to make smart decisions and collaborate in situations of uncertainty. where they learn by experience. Where mistakes are opportunities and where children are responsible for all results, success or failure,” Konstantinos adds.
To achieve this, NXTLVL’s goal is to help children develop the 12 basic skills essential to their development in the present and fundamental to its success in the future. They call them vital skills for the future and group them into 4 categories: cognitive (creativity, curiosity, critical thinking); interpersonal (collaboration, communication, leadership, ethics); autonomous leadership (self-knowledge, value, resilience); meta-learning (growth mindset, metacognition).
How the program works
Drawing on years of cutting-edge research and work at top universities including MIT, Harvard and UCL, the NXTLVL team has created an innovative program designed for online learning using three core principles: stimulating games, positive facilitation and active collaboration.
For one hour a week, students immerse themselves in educational games that they imitate complex environments and new situations that they will experience in real life. Without knowing the rules of the games, children make guesses and test, fail and correct their course until they find the most effective strategies. Children become curious, excited and motivated: they want to learn because it’s really fun.
“Intelligent decision-making is crucial for the future of our children. That’s why, at NXTLVL, we design educational games based on the most important mental models of different disciplines, such as first principles thinking, probabilistic thinking, opportunity cost, compounds, scarcity thinking, or systems thinking, among others. Teaching children how to think and not what to think is key to helping them cope with an uncertain world,” continues the founder of NXTLVL.
Children always lead the discussion, but expert facilitators lead session discussions on a personalized basis, giving students the opportunity to actively discover, practice and develop their skills through a battery of structured, open-ended questions. In this way, children are in control of their learning as well as their own goals and outcomes.
To solve the complex problems of tomorrow, children must be very good collaborators and learn to work effectively as a team in chaotic conditions, as happens in real life. Therefore, in each class, they learn to recognize, understand and accept different skills, motivations, ways of thinking and emotional responses, as well as to build on each other’s strengths to achieve a common goal.