Living in exponential times our children have multiple challenges to face in today’s world. Not only is success measured by the scores they get in school but also by the various other achievements in the multiple fields that they have enrolled themselves for.
In our eagerness to support children’s achievement, we sometimes forget that potential is not a lofty end goal but the capacity to grow, learn and adapt to change throughout life. It is about discovering a fulfilling and meaningful life, one that cannot be measured by numbers.
In order to help the child grow and develop into a well-rounded personality one needs to focus on overall development beyond the academic curricula. We need to look at enhancing life skills such as self awareness, empathy, interpersonal skills, communication etc. These skills give the child the ability for adaptive and positive behavior that enables them to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life.
The overall development of the child is not gained by learning by rote the capital of the world, the formulas and equation and definitions. Those piece of knowledge are only getting the child to gain knowledge,which needs to be supplemented with life skills.
In the article written by Thomas Friedman titled Middle-class jobs are becoming obsolete faster than ever Tony Wagner, the Harvard education specialist, in his book “Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World” is that our K-12 and college tracks are not consistently “adding the value and teaching the skills that matter most in the marketplace.” Which is why the goal of education today, as per Wagner, should not be to make every child “college ready” but “innovation ready” – ready to add value to whatever they do.
In India what it seems we’re lacking is that element in education process of character, alongside all the other academic pieces which are equally important. We are hearing a lot of debate on the education system, and we have seen some changes but we still have a long way to go. Our education system still has a colonial hangover not geared to support innovators and creative people.
We can make a small beginning by getting our children to undergo some of the life skills as part of the school currcula.These programs are intensive, fully assessed and designed to equip students to go through the turbulence of adolescence ,help him steer clear of irresponsible decisions throughout his life. Good life skills enable your child to manage money responsibly, make realistic choices, stand up to peer pressure and be a good parent in the long term.
The life skills which we feel should be addressed are
- 1. Self-awareness –Self awareness is a way to explore our individual personality
- 2. Empathy –to understand and accepting the feelings thoughts and attitudes of others contributes to the ability to initiate relationship, sustenance of relationships, ability of negotiations and compromise and most importantly the art of terminating a relationship amicably and constructively .
- 3. Effective communication combines a set of skills including non- verbal communication ,attentive listening the ability to manage stress in the moment and the capacity to recognize and understand your own .
- 4. Critical thinking enables one to analyze, evaluate , explain and restructure their thinking about information and experiences in an objective manner
- 5. Creative thinking –aims at sharpening reasoning skills and sparks a child own creative solution to conflict .
- 6. Decision making a skill which encompasses the thought process of selecting a logical choice from the available options.
- 7. Problem solving means the flair to understand a situation and then form a workable solution . These skills are important for REAL life!!! .The ability to approach a problem with the I can attitude
- 8. Coping with stress- All children experience stress. Coping with stress is about identifying the sources of stress in our lives, recognizing how this affects us, and acting in ways that help to control our levels of stress.
- 9. Coping with emotions involves recognizing a child’s ability to deal with manage control emotions in themselves and others, being aware of how emotions influence behaviour, and being able to respond to emotions appropriately.
As per Wagner in the article written by Thomas Friedman titled Middle-class jobs are becoming obsolete faster than ever – “Today, because knowledge is available on every Internet-connected device, what you know matters far less than what you can do with what you know. The capacity to innovate – the ability to solve problems creatively or bring new possibilities to life – and skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration which are vital to be parallel with academic knowledge.
So what one needs to teach the children to today is not only teach content how to think and ask the right questions and to take initiative.
As per Thomas Friedman the most innovating education system is Finland “and it is the only country where students leave high school ‘innovation-ready.’ They learn concepts and creativity more than facts, and have a choice of many electives – all with a shorter school day, little homework and almost no testing. In the U.S., 500 K-12 schools affiliated with Hewlett Foundation’s Deeper Learning Initiative and a consortium of 100 school districts called EdLeader21 are developing new approaches to teaching 21st-century skills.
These are islands of excellence, such drastic new models cannot be expected in our country in a hurry but I am sure we can evolve our own unique and effective education system. After all we have a legacy of the guru shishya model of education.
So let’s start with teaching our kids life skills in schools and build a well-rounded personality who can take on the challenges of the world and contribute innovatively.
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