The relevance of life skills in schools

beyond the four walls

The relevance of  life skills in schools

To bridge the gap between today’s dynamic world and growing young minds, life skills are coming in to the picture. Essentially designed to prepare one for a the complex life, these attributes help gain more than promised, says Gayathri Srinath

Ask the famous basketball player Larry Bird about what constitutes a winner and he says, “A winner is someone who recognises his god-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.” But how often do we provide such an environment to our growing children who seem to be drowning under the conventional educational system?

The Indian educational schemes are designed to prep students only for their respective jobs. More often than not, the system doesn’t deal with other important modules of a child’s overall development. Life skills, for example. Life skills are those attributes that focus on prepping young minds for a social and fruitful life and deserve an equal amount of attention. Mind you, life skills are not livelihood skills but they are the qualities that make a responsible citizen.

Not just technical aspectsThe primary goal of education is to impart knowledge. But knowledge alone will not take you places. The apt utilisation of the gained knowledge in real life scenarios is what matters. Always remember, academic success does not guarantee success in life. Keeping this in mind, all CBSE schools have been instructed to appoint life skill trainers by the CBSE Board. While some engage a specialised counsellor, other utilise the multi-faceted skills of their existing teachers.

This move is designed to tap in to the vulnerable young minds and sow the seeds of good skills that will help them sail through difficulties. Most of the schools use life skills as a preventive tool rather than a curative one. What more, they are also taking the
advantage of the techno-age by employing gadgets to make the process more
student-friendly and effective.

There are so many technology-based education companies like, Educomp, etc., who use technology extensively. Thanks to them, students can now prep
themselves sitting in the comfort of their own homes. To make the learning experience more enjoyable, such organisations also collaborate with schools and conduct regular classes of educational games and activities.

One of the major life skills needed right now is the art of managing stress. Sportspersons, specially, are perfect examples of the pressure of performing well in stressful situations. It is times like these that decide the winner and the loser. In situations like these, emotional intelligence matters more than  technical intelligence. A cool and calm mind will help you sail through many difficult hurdles.

Another area that young minds need to work on is self awareness. Ignorance of our own strengths and weaknesses gives rise to many unwanted situations where we end being a round peg in a square hole. By the time we realise this misfit, it would already have cost us our precious time and personal resources. If we are aware of our own personality, we could become more empowered and thus, more successful.

Dealing with people

Success in workplace unlike the success in school is dependent mostly on team work, interpersonal relationships and good communication skills. At a time when gadgets rule the world, dealing with people directly is more of a challenge than a pleasure.

With no exposure on interpersonal relationships, kids are more comfortable with machines than with people. Human interactions are complex and demand a sense of dedication and communication skills. To be effective in this field is to learn to talk and listen. Hence, communication is another life skill that can take you places.

Categories of life skills

Realising the importance of life skills, UNICEF and WHO have recognised and defined various skills under their charter. UNICEF defines life skills as “a behaviour change or behaviour development approach designed to address a balance of three areas: knowledge, attitudes and skills”. WHO defines life skills as “the abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable the individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life.”

Recognising 10 important life skills, WHO has categorised them in to three categories:
Thinking skills: Self awareness, critical thinking, problem solving,
decision making, creative thinking.Social skills: Effective communication, empathy and interpersonal relationships.

Emotional Skills: Dealing with emotions and coping with stress.Imparting life skills to students early in their lives will aid them in taking decisions related to their careers. Whether it is deciding what to do after 10th or learning to deal with difficult classmates or exploring new relationships, these growing kids will get to apply their personal skills and gain valuable experience. Having said that, life skills are not applicable to students only. In fact, they are applicable to every individual who aspires for a good life. So many scenarios crop up everyday in our lives, to which we have no answers. Life skills bridge that gap and help us out of tricky situations.

A happy and stress-free mind translates to a healthy life. So, get started on these life-saving skills and pave a strong path for the future citizens of the world.

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