Go to school, study, get good grades. According to Professor Edward Hess, it’s high time parents, schools, and students themselves redefined what “smart” means. (Hint: It’s a lot more than straight As and 4.0+ GPAs.)


Hess, a professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business and author of the new book “Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization,” says “Today we already have instant access to all the knowledge we want, thanks to ‘companions’ like Google and Siri. The ‘new smart’ means knowing what you don’t know and knowing how to learn it, being able to ask the right questions, and being able to examine the answers critically.”


The skill set Hess describes is so important because it will enable youngsters to stay perpetually relevant throughout their lives. No matter how rapidly knowledge advances (or how quickly a particular skill set becomes outdated), good adaptive learners will be needed.


The “new smart” qualities your children will need to be successful in a tech-driven world include:


Engage in exploration. Go on family outings to local museums. Spend an afternoon on a creative activity, such as “inventing” a new product using items from around the house. Do science experiments with them. All of these activities are opportunities to learn the basics of good critical and innovative thinking and to get comfortable with making mistakes.