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It’s going to be a messy, messy world

12 Feb 2018

It’s Going to Be a Messy, Messy World

Mr Ho Kwon Ping addresses the crowd of educators at the Education and Career Guidance Seminar 2017.

As parents and educators, what can we do to help our children thrive? Mr Ho Kwon Ping, Chairman of Singapore Management University and Banyan Tree Holdings, shares his insights.

“By the time a student graduates, half of the jobs that exist today will not even exist anymore. And half of the jobs [he might] work in haven’t been created.”

This will be the impact of digital disruption in the future.

“[The future world] is not going to be a world where [just] a set curriculum in school can help young people adjust…”

As educators (or parents), what can we do to prepare our students to face such messiness and unpredictability in the future?

Build up strong values in them

 “It’s going to be unimaginable.” Mr Ho was referring to the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI). That why it’s important that we help our children develop values such as discipline and resilience. “They will have to acquire unknown skills that you cannot teach them, overcome undefined challenges… and values will provide the constancy as they navigate uncharted paths.”

Teach them to ask “why?”

 “We talk so much about [encouraging] innovation in Singapore,” Mr Ho says. “But [to do this], we have to encourage our students to ask ‘why’ until they get an answer they are truly satisfied with, not an answer that’s ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’.”

Help them learn the rules (even if they eventually break them)

Thinking of breaking out of the box? Know its structure, the shape and material it is made of, first. “You must learn everything that’s in the curriculum…. unless you do, and truly master it, you cannot break from it and innovate.”

Encourage purposeful exploration

 “Everything you do in life has consequences [for] you in the future. And young people need to be told that. Too often, they just meander around. They don’t recognise that you are always the total, net result of everything you have been before.”  

Mentor them

What’s one thing that AI can never replace? It is our human ability to connect with one another. Jobs that require face-to-face interactions, such as nursing or tennis coaches, will have a better chance in the future world. Students will need “a warm fuzzy body — a teacher who hugs you when you are down, and encourages you when you do well”.


The quotes were taken from Mr Ho Kwon Ping’s keynote speech at last year’s Education and Career Guidance (ECG) Seminar. The seminar is a networking platform for teachers and ECG practitioners to share best practices and gather insights on ECG issues.