February 2018

Life Skills Key to Transform Students’ Worldview

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To prepare individuals for challenging careers ahead, the steadily turning fast -paced life and nuclear family system have necessitated educational institutes to inculcate life skills among students, observes Akash Tomer of Elets News Network (ENN).

The term ‘Life Skills’ is used to describe a set of basic skills like creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, the ability to communicate and collaborate.

These are usually acquired through learning and/or direct life experience. It is important to understand and remember that these skills actually enable individuals and groups to effectively handle issues and problems usually
confronted in day-to-day life.

These skills also include personal and social responsibility that contribute to good citizenship.

All this leads us to ponder how much all these essential skills are needed to achieve success in the 21st century. These are required both for healthy societies and to prepare successful and employable individuals.

Significance in Modern Times

Be it policymakers or educators, they are laying stress upon nurturing life skills for children’s holistic development.
Though the focus is still on languages, sciences and mathematics, the current societal changes in the form of nuclear families and increased individualism have given birth to the need for schools to train students in life skills. It is hoped to enable them to lead a better life.

Reflecting change, while the earlier eras and traditional ecosystem of families supported the imbibing of critical life skills, today, the formal K-12 system needs to address life skills development in an explicit manner.

The critical importance of acquiring 21st Century life skills was highlighted in a recent study. Released by World Economic Forum’s Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Study – 2016, it states that 65% of today’s schoolchildren will
have to take up the kind of jobs that are non-existent today.

The World Health Organisation’s studies highlight the critical role of life skills education in improving health, hygiene and safety. All these studies globally indicate the vital importance of life skills education. There is also a body of knowledge to suggest that life skills learning is most appropriate at a young (school-going age) to tap into the innate curiosity of the child.

Life skills are not only about learning a subject, getting trained in a skill, and doing daily household jobs like laundry and cooking, it is much more than this.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), life skills are “the abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with demands and challenges of everyday life” It includes improvement in social, emotional, and thinking skills of a person such as self-awareness, empathy, critical thinking, decision-making, and coping with stress.

Life skills are the abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to deal effectively with demands and challenges of everyday life.

Importance of life skills-based education Life skills help a person to live a healthy and productive life by making informed decisions, communicating effectively with others and developing self-management skills. These skills are often taught to adolescents, as they can help them successfully transition “from childhood to adulthood by healthy development of social and emotional skills”.

Life skills-based education can help in the development of social competence and problem-solving skills, which, in turn, help adolescents to form their own identity. They help in promoting positive social norms that have an impact on the adolescents’ health services, schools, and family. Also, these skills promote development of positive self-esteem and anger control.

Benefits

To cope with the increasing pace and change of modern life, students need new life skills such as the ability to deal with stress and frustration. Today’s students will have many new jobs over the course of their lives, with associated pressures and the need for flexibility.

For Students:
In everyday life, the development of life skills helps students to:

  • Find new ways of thinking and problem solving
  • Recognise the impact of their actions and teaches them to take responsibility for what they do than blaming others
  • Build confidence both in spoken skills and for group collaboration and cooperation
  • Analyse options, make decisions and understand why they make certain choices outside classroom
  • Develop a greater sense of self-awareness and appreciation for others
  • Employment Benefits:

While students work hard to get good grades, many still struggle to gain employment. According to research by the Confederation of British Industry, employers were looking not just for academic success but key employability skills
including:

  • The ability to self-manage, solve problems and understand the business environment
  • Working well as part of a team
  • Time and people management
  • Agility and adaptability to different roles and flexible working environments

Social Benefits

The more we develop life skills individually, the more these affect and benefit the world we live in:

  • Recognising cultural awareness and citizenship makes international cooperation easier
  • Respecting diversity allows creativity and imagination to flourish developing a more tolerant society
  • Developing negotiation skills, the ability to network and empathies can help to build resolutions rather than resentments

The demographic dividend of India can only be transformative when the young population of this country develops life skills in addition to vocational skills to manage the challenges in everyday life, whether at school, at work, or
personal lives. Life skills are defined as a group of cognitive, personal and inter-personal skills that enhance abilities to manage challenges and risks, maximize opportunities, and solve problems in cooperative, non-violent ways.

To cope with the increasing pace and change of modern life, students need new life skills such as the ability to deal with stress and frustration. Today’s students will have many new jobs over the course of their lives, with associated pressures and the need for flexibility.

Essential Life Skills

While one cannot give a definitive list of life skills, some skills may still sound relevant to oneself depending on one’s life circumstances, beliefs, age, culture, and geographic location, etc. Depending upon varying stages of life, different life skills may prove more or less important.

Such as:

  • During school or college education, one requires study skills
  • If you are purchasing a house, negotiation skills are needed
  • For employment, you need to work on your employability skills
  • Leadership and presentation skills could be useful, along with a whole host of other skills, at workplace
  • As you start a family you will need parenting skills. Also, time management and organising skills would prove important
  • In life when you’ll need conflict resolution, stress-management and problem solving skills as well

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