Schools need to teach life skills to face the world
Our schools teach us 2 or 3 languages, Science, Mathematics and Social Studies, and to some, Accountancy & Bookkeeping; but do they teach us life skills to face the world?
Do they teach us how to enjoy every moment of our lives regardless of what happens to us, and what others do to us? And do they teach us to let others around us enjoy their lives too, and still better, help them do so?
Do they teach us what success is, what leadership is, what effectiveness is, and how we can plan our lives to succeed as effective leaders?
Do they teach us how to face defeat, and after defeat, how to rise from the ashes and fly?
Do they teach us to see the big picture all the time, maintaining a sense of proportion and not get diverted by trivia?
Do they teach us how to form our own principles and value systems, and stand by them all through our lives?
Do they teach us to start with a world view on things we know, and keep evolving our world view?
Do they teach us to gather and organize our thoughts on any given topic?
Do they teach us how to communicate effectively, orally and in writing, make effective presentations, and speak will in public?
Do they teach us how to lead a healthy life?
Do they teach us why we should save a part of our income, say for the important occasions (like our children’s education, wedding, etc), our retired days when we may have no income, and the rainy day (like emergencies)? And how much saving from the start of our career (or from today) will be required to provide for all these?
Do they teach us how to select good friends and retain them for life?
Do they even teach them how to do well in academics and score good marks? For example, how to set goals for effective studying, how to read and grasp quickly, how to manage all these within the available time, without missing the fun of school times?
Do they develop scientific thinking in us?
Do they teach us rapid reading skills, so useful in the knowledge economy?
Do they teach us how to prepare for success in competitive exams?
Do they teach us how to prepare for interviews of all kinds?
Do they teach us to ‘learn to learn’ all the time?
Do they teach us to think independently in any given situation? For example, if we see a rowdy misbehaving with a girl on a bus, what will we do? What should we do? Can we reason well and defend our position confidently and convincingly, whatever position we may take?
Do they teach us ethics, and how to resolve ethical dilemmas and conflicts of interest without compromising on our principles?
Do they teach us to ‘think out of the box’ creatively to find unconventional but effective solutions?
Do they teach the ones left behind, even the socially disadvantaged, how they can easily recover, and makeup and compete with their peers, without even reservation?
Do they teach us not to be easily manipulated, e.g., we don’t get radicalized in our young years?
Do they teach us how we should develop the right positive mental attitude to ourselves, life, others around us, and the rest of the society?
Do they teach us to participate in debates without external help?
Do they teach us how humor is useful and how we can use it effectively in life?
Do they teach us how to use personal power to influence others, humanely?
Do they teach us to resolve conflicts, whether involving us or not, using participatory style?
Do they help us solve real life problems? Are we sure we solve them right?
Do they teach us how to work in a team, for the success of the team?
Do they teach us how to manage our time effectively?
Do they teach us how to get the best bang for our buck?
Do they teach us to organize an event, ensuring nothing goes wrong?
Do they teach us telephone manners and etiquette?
Do they teach us how to treat our parents (and others who have helped us)?
Do they teach us to feel, love and empathize with others (e.g., when we hear about farmer suicides, floods, drought or the plight poor children, how do we react)?
Do they teach us why discrimination in the name of caste, religion, race, sex, etc. is bad, and what we should do when such discrimination’s happen in front of us?
Do they help us fine-tune our social behavior for the good of the society and our own good?
Do they teach us what we should teach our children (when we grow up), and how?
Do they teach us how and why to give back to the society, more than what we received?
Is their teaching style centered around the teacher or the student?
Do they teach us to develop our self-esteem, discover our interest patterns and perform to our potential?
Do they teach us why it is important to learn all these while at school?
Do the teachers have the knowledge, skills, competence and tools to teach all these?
Do they live by at least most of these principles and value systems, so their teaching will carry credibility?
Just because schools have never been known to teach these, should we presume they need not, or cannot, teach us these?
Don’t we wish our schools taught our kids, these life skills in schools?
If I told you that all these life skills can be taught, with the help of simple tools, in even the remotest of Government schools, in just 2 periods a week from Class 5 to Class 10, in a way most of the students will not only enjoy, but also learn, imbibe and live by, will you believe?
This can be demonstrated through a rapid low-cost Pilot Study if the Central or any of the State Governments are willing!
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
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Since we have never seen a School offer such training, we may believe such skills can’t be taught in schools.
About 20 years back, I started a non-profit making Company, which offered such training (offering most of the above skills, not all) to students of Classes 5 to 11. We created the entire training schedule, material, methodology, and Facilitators and have offered such training in several schools in South India. The training was such a hit among the students, that they looked forward to such training even more than their PT: i.e., Sports) periods. Many of the students who have undergone such training programs are leaders in their respective realms.
Since this was not part of the school curriculum, the Facilitators were specially trained, and the program required a lot of coordination, we had to charge a per student fee of about Rs 100 per student per month. We offered it either integrated with the school timings or in camp mode. Though many parents liked it, some parents didn’t want to pay for such a program, and some parents were more interested in marks in Maths and Science and felt this time could be used in teaching more of Maths and Science, and so, in the absence, of unanimity, without Govt support, it could not be sustained.
If it is taken as a State/ National Project, and integrated into the school curriculum (and I’m willing to gift all our intellectual property material to the Govts, and pass on all our expertise and experience pro bono), I’m sure it will be successful.
Imagine a whole generation of students who come trained and groomed in all the above areas! The gains for the nation will be billions of % of the small investment of time and money in Facilitators.
This sounds great. Is it still available or can i buy a module so that i can use it to train next generation? I was thinking of framing a curriculum on the similar lines with emphasis on teaching our indian heritage, culture. Frankly i have not started on it as i was wondering how to go about it. But, if something is already there, why reinvent most of the wheel?
I am IT professional working from Bangalore. I was very good at academics but when I faced the world, i found i lacked many skills. It took me a lot of time to realise it. I want my next generation to be prepared for it and not go through the same cycle which i went through.
All of the above skills mentioned are actually life skills as you say, you learn them as you go through life. I like that you have enumerated them so well. No school can in fact teach us these skills – Art of Living, for example, provides the kind of perspective on life that can enable any individual to develop the kind of skills mentioned in your article. Schools and educational systems do not teach individual how to live their lives…this is a sad reflection on society in general – and this is not limited to Indian schools. Many western schools fail in this as well. I had the good fortune of meeting a vadhyar who was schooled from an early age in a gurukul associated with the Kanchi Peetham. His knowledge of the vedas, and his poise and self-confidence, has to be seen to be believed. No secular education can provide this kind of capability today.