I must confess I have found myself to be quite useless when trying to do things like changing a flat tyre, repairing a blown fuse, fixing a leaky tap, stitching on a button that’s come undone and other similar stuff.
It has often made me wonder why did I never learn such useful skills earlier in my life. Ofcourse, I could have learnt them if I studied in a vocational school but not in a regular school. And does regular schools prepare us for other “simple” tasks which we need to do daily such as paying the bills, managing our finances, cooking a nutritious meal?
An education should involve learning life skills that a person can carry with them after school to become a well-rounded, successful person.
So here is my wish list of what all schools need to compulsorily teach to students:
- Communication & Conversation Skills – Generations coming out of school are forgetting the good, old art of conversing as most communication today happens on smartphones. But lack of conversation and communication skills often results in social isolation, arrested social development & unfulfilling relationships. Communication skills is still rated as the top most skill to have by most employers. Learning how to converse and communicate means understanding of social norms and boundaries to be observed, knowing how to connect with others, being empathetic, which results in rewarding professional and personal lives.
- Handling money matters – Accounting, finance, and business classes do explain accounting procedures, financing arrangements, and business structures, but do not focus much on personal finances, saving or investing. The job of these classes is to prepare students for working environments, and not necessarily for managing their own finances. Students need to understand the concept of expense tracking, expense management, managing budgets, managing wish lists through pocket money as well as the concept of emergency funds. It’s equally important for them to make saving a habit, after all a penny saved is a penny earned.
- Cooking, health and nutrition – I regularly come across people (mostly men I must admit) who are clueless in kitchen. They can’t make themselves a cup of tea even if it was to save their lives. The ability to microwave a ready to serve, processed, junk food is not really considered cooking. But beyond cooking, which is an incredibly great way to destress and have fun, schools also need to teach students how to read food labels to determine the health benefits or potential harms of additives and ingredients, storing & packing food safely, taking precautions to avoid food borne diseases, develop a healthy diet and very importantly, trying out foods from other geographies to develop an empathy and better understanding of divergent cultures. Healthy eating habits create a healthy and prosperous society. Sick societies cannot produce leaders.
- Manners, Etiquette & Civic Sense – Manners and etiquette are indispensable in a civilized and evolved society. They are the lubricant which keeps society moving smoothly. Not only do good manners and proper civic sense show us in good light, they also help us extend kindness and respect to everyone around as we would expect from others. The students need to learn something as basic as how to enter and exit a crowded elevator to somewhat advanced skills such as how to behave and dress for a formal dine out and how to interact with people from foreign lands.
- Self-defense & protection – As societies become more aggressive, chaotic and unsafe, threat to one’s life and limb can spring from anywhere, anytime. Learning self-defence can be necessary in protecting the well-being of ourselves and our loved ones. Children should be taught to protect themselves from potential molesters. For women, it is particularly advisable to know how to apply “Krav Maga” type manoeuvres that would leave any potential violator incapacitated. It is also critical to know how to render first aid and help, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, dressing of wounds, to accident victims when necessary.
Henry Ford famously said – “If I had asked people what they want, they would have said faster horses”. This is exactly what we seem to be doing, wanting our students to memorize more, achieve more, in a much less time – just like how we would have wanted faster horses when really, we should have been asking for the car. Similarly, our expectations from the education system needs to constantly evolve and change to help us better equipped to handle challenges life throws at us.
When you take the class out of the classroom and into the real world is when you attain the ability to do things which ought to be done.