Lessons beyond books

Until recently there was no mechanism to reward positive attitude towards teachers and school systems, but now thankfully CBSE under its CCE initiative has introduced a beautiful subject like life skills to make it possible for teachers to mark them for their delightful ways.

In this age of ever evolving needs, the fastest growing and ever-changing needs are that of children. While in yesteryears it was all about ensuring children best of schools and opportunities for their education, now it doesn’t stop just there. The needs of parents and children alike from the perspective of children’s lives go much beyond just education today. It’s more about having a multi-faceted personality, being an all-rounder and excelling in various fields. It’s about overall talent and personality leading them to become successful human beings.

One of the most important roles of a teacher is to prepare our children for life. But what they teach in school is mostly stuff that one needs to get a job and make a living, not the skills they will need to deal with social and emotional stresses, and live a balanced and happy life, which would include dealing with anger, peer pressure, bullying, sadness, disappointment, shyness, lack of self-confidence, and more.

Life-skill coaching

Life-skills education as defined by the UNICEF is, “A behaviour change or behaviour development approach designed to address a balance of three areas; knowledge attitude and skills.” The world bodies such as UNICEF, UNESCO and WHO list the ten core life-skills as empathy, self awareness building Skills, creative thinking, critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, effective communication, interpersonal relationship skills, coping with stress and coping with emotions.

So what needs to be seen as part of our educational ecosystem is how we are nurturing the life-skills of our children. Are we giving them enough social/ emotional support, mentoring and encouragement that will give them the confidence to soar? Are we helping them become strong, capable leaders who can think out of the box and create great works of science, technology and art, and lead people and organizations successfully?

Challenge of education

The education sector is undergoing rapid transformation. Schools face the challenge of preparing students for job titles that currently do not exist. They are evolving as learning communities, focused on the development of the students’ 21st century skills - a requirement for success in the new, globally competitive economy.

It is no longer sufficient to operate a school under an industrial model that simply teaches the 3 R’s - reading, writing and arithmetic. Students today need to develop multi dimensional life skills like creative thinking, digital literacy, collaboration and teamwork, with the ability to evaluate and apply knowledge in the rapidly changing information-rich digital world.

In today’s world where human life has ceased to have any value, where murders, suicides, rapes, and molestations are so common, we are waking up to the lack of life-skills among the adult population. Due to the emphasis on academics and marks, we have somehow missed the all-important bus of life-skills. It is interesting to note that many brilliant students are admitted to the IITs every year. But the fact is that they are unable to cope up with the pressure of living in an aggressively competitive environment. The same goes for society as a whole. No matter how brilliant or talented we are, we need to learn to cope up with the highs and lows in life. We need to develop the inner strength to fight our problems. Life-skills teach us just that.

(The writer is the CEO of a research based educational organization.)

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