IEIIT-CNR, National Research Council of Italy (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 2383-2391
ISBN: 978-84-606-5763-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2015
Location: Madrid, Spain
Globalization, the severe economic crisis and the ICT revolution are transforming the work market deeply and make people face situations in rapid evolution, as well as stimuli deriving from unusual contexts, cultures and ways of thinking [1-3].

To face this difficult situation, the School is summoned to play a leading role in preparing new generations, where important skills must be developed from the early years, such as adaptability, capability to work in teams and cooperate to solve interdisciplinary problems [4-6]. All such aptitudes can help people to handle with unpredictable situations and unusual problems in heterogeneous contexts and should become integrant part of modern curricula.

Traditional methods, in fact, provide students with a strong preparation, so as to make them keep up to date, but are still strongly lacking in the development of the above aptitudes. On the contrary, important studies about Emotional Intelligence in private life and in the workplace [7-9] have proved that competence, traditionally meant as technical capability to perform tasks, must be seen in the broader context of capability to cooperate and relate properly to the environment, colleagues and customers. In particular, in the quickly varying scenarios of our times, adaptability becomes a key factor.

The term “adaptability” recalls the Theory of Evolution: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change” (Charles Darwin) [10-12]. When the environment is particularly dynamic, as it is happening to the work market, features such as flexibility and adaptability, meant as the capability to adapt to the environment in the best way possible, become fundamental.

This work considers some aspects of adaptability as a key term in human evolution and, through some practical proposals, applies such concepts to self-management and cooperative work in a school or work environment. All the methods proposed start from the following question: how can adaptability be taught at school? The fundamental observation that guides the methods applied is that adaptability to changes, especially rapid changes, requires to be ready to adopt new trends and new solutions. On the contrary, especially in the long term, past experiences tend to prevent us from trying new ways: several habits are adopted and new behaviors are seldom investigated.

In the early years, this kind of attitude is not so deeply rooted, so school should become a strong opportunity to learn to adopt distinct methods from those we are used to. The proposed exercises are mainly based on groupwork, so as to stimulate students to observe other people’s approaches to problems and try to achieve the following goals: be open to new ideas and approaches, adapt to different situations and companions, handling of unexpected requirements, change strategy along the run.

A quite diffused habit is to stick to the same group of close friends, so one of the most important suggestions is to help young students to mix with other schoolmates. In this way, the young are taught to take into account other people’s tastes, ways of thinking and studying and to understand their importance. In their adulthood, they will face more easily cooperative work and interdisciplinary tasks to be performed with colleagues.
Adaptability, evolvability, emotional intelligence, work market.