At an early age, I learned from my mother that there was more to school than reading, writing, arithmetic and lunch. These days our schools have become involved with teaching to the test and cramming technology into student’s heads that they have forgotten the importance of teaching basic life skills to students. Kids can pass all the tests in the world and be proficient with computers, but if they lack the ability to socialize, think, analyze and develop commonsense, they will not function well in society or do well in life. Education should prepare our students for the future or for the real world that exist around students. Whether that involves going on to further study, joining the world of work or becoming an engaged member of society. That’s why all students need to be given a life skills education to prepare them for the real world.
There is often a discrepancy between what students obtain in the classroom and the demands placed on them outside the classroom. Let’s use the world of work for example. In the survey in UK by YouGov in 2016, in a poll of graduate employers, more than half said that none or few graduates were “work-ready”. The company said that graduates lacked basic attributes such as team work, communication, punctuality and ability to cope under pressure.
In another survey, only 34% of executives claim to be satisfied with the level of attainment of young people entering company and 51% of executives say a skills gap is hampering their organizational performance. If one of the purposes of education is to prepare people for world of work, it seems like we are not achieving that purpose particularly well.
In my country Philippines, we have this class called Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE). It’s one of the learning areas used in the country’s secondary schools as part of the curriculum. It’s a subject in high school and its component areas are: home economics, industrial arts, agriculture, and information and communication technology. TLE class helps students to be trained their daily aspects of life and learn their everyday works for their daily living. It develops students’ skills that will help them in the present time and for the near future or let say it helps students to prepare for the “real world”. This should be an example of life skills education for students to have.
Many would think that young people are learning life skills from their parents, just because they are the people who they spend the most of the time with and constantly socialize with. However, it is not always the case depending on young people circumstances. According to News Hub, “two-thirds out of 450 parents believed that social skills should be taught in school. ”
With more and more single parent households and with both parents working full time in many of the two parent homes, there often just isn’t time for parents to teach these skills. As a result, many students still find themselves asking questions like, how would I do taxes? How could I get a good job and write a good resume? how would I make successful budget? How would I manage my time and stress? We can’t always assume that students are being taught these skills somewhere. If we want to make sure that everyone has these essential skills, they need to be a regular part of our school day.
A basic curriculum with units on employment skills, financial planning, household management, health care, time management, and parenting/ relationship skills would teach students things that most adults see as common sense but are truly things that need to be learned. If we continue the trend of having everyone learn these things through trial and error, we are dooming our world’s youth to a lifetime of repeating the mistakes of their parents and grandparents. So how can we make a change? Well, every year the Youth Parliament run a ballot amongst young people. In the year 2016, more than 978, 216 of young people voted for a “curriculum to prepare us for life”. Those asked expressed a wish for a school curriculum that includes life skills on topics like finance, sex, and relationships and politics as they feel this would help them to live happy, healthy and success adult life. They felt that school life has become too narrow and only focused on scoring as highly as possible in tests which have very little functional use in actual life after 18. If politicians would stop trying to manipulate the schools and also change some of the restrictive laws they have instituted, schools would have a chance to teach kids what they need to know. And after that, the educational system should be geared to their particular requirements, not simply to learning geography or history or how to pass an exam that has nothing to do with their future life’s work.
It’s no doubt that what we learn in school is very important, but there’s a lot that can be added to the curriculum that will teach students to survive every day. In a growing technology in the world, STEM based (science, technology, engineering, and math) are the education that our world focused on to prepare students for the coursework and careers of the future. But life skills are also important for students to make good decisions and solve problems for their professional and academic careers, also for their personal lives. Geometry and biology are great, but learning about paying bills and cooking healthy meals are aspects in life that will always be needed.