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Life Lessons Unlocked: Teaching Essential Skills for the Modern Student

The middle-aged generation of today grew up in the nurturing embrace of joint families, surrounded by peers of similar ages. In such environments, values like "Sharing is Caring" were not explicitly taught but naturally imbibed through daily interactions and communal living.

Conversely, modern educational practices have evolved significantly. In today's schools, we begin teaching even toddlers the importance of sharing and caring, as most of them come from nuclear families. The changes in society have reflected in changes in our ideologies, perceptions, and methodologies of education which are tailored to contemporary needs. Modern educational strategies now focus on aligning learning objectives, assessments, and instructional activities to improve learning outcomes.

We are deeply invested in skill development, talent cultivation, and the pursuit of academic excellence. We are eager to create valedictorians out of all our students. Yet, it is important to reflect on whether this is sufficient. 

Where are we headed, and what are we preparing the next generation for?

While our primary goal is to shape our children into efficient individuals who thrive in the economic sphere, afford life's luxuries, and are deemed successful and happy, we must ask ourselves if this truly defines success and happiness. Does monetary success, such as wealth, luxuries, and assets, guarantee happiness?

We often share success stories with our students. However, should we not also recount stories of resilience and failures? It is crucial to ensure that students do not harbour unrealistic expectations, which can lead to disappointment, anxiety, and pressure to always succeed. Discussing failures prepares them to navigate life's challenges effectively and build resilience against the harsh realities of life.

This issue becomes even more relevant when considering the data related to anxiety and depression. Approximately 9.4% of children aged 3-17 years (around 5.8 million) were diagnosed with anxiety between 2016 and 2019, and 4.4% (approximately 2.7 million) were diagnosed with depression during the same period, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alarmingly, this trend is on the rise.

Despite efforts such as reducing syllabus, eliminating divisions and distinctions to reduce stress over the rat race students face, implementing pre-exam and post-result counselling by CBSE, focusing on competence over rote learning, and ensuring the availability of special educators and counsellors in schools, there is still a long way to go. 

In classrooms, we are dedicated to fostering successful global citizens by imparting education based on skills essential for the 21st century like Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creative Thinking— the essential  "Four C's" for success in a globalized society.

However, amidst our pursuit of academic and career success, it is also important to teach our children additional life skills so that they grow into emotionally strong, prudent, and resilient adults.

Let's strive to bring a balance in teaching our children valuable life lessons. 

Navigating failures

Failure is the stepping stone to success; that is a crucial lesson that students must learn and understand. As the saying goes, "Success does not mean the absence of failures but the attainment of ultimate objectives." This means understanding that success is about winning the overall war, not every single battle along the way. Children must be taught to experience both defeat and victory with grace and humility, realizing that unless and until one falls, they won’t be able to rise and grow.

Every successful individual has encountered failure at some point. It's through failure that we uncover our shortcomings, recognize the need for better preparation, and acknowledge where greater effort is required. The key lies in learning from these mistakes, as this ability will lead to long-term success. Moreover, failure fosters a deeper appreciation for success itself.

Educators play a pivotal role in this process by being empathetic towards children's challenges and providing them with a safe space to acknowledge and learn from their mistakes. Teaching these values early helps kids develop resilience, persistence, and a positive approach to setbacks, preparing them not just for school but for life's ups and downs.

Essential lessons

Sex education: Teenage is a pivotal phase of an individual’s life, marking the transition from childhood to adulthood—a critical stage between leaving childhood behind and moving towards independence. It is a period where adolescents seek freedom, often prioritizing immediate gratification like physical pleasure or emotional satisfaction over potential, more serious consequences.

Yet, it is precisely during this stage that children need guidance in navigating life to avoid making detrimental choices and enduring lifelong trauma. How many of us feel comfortable discussing sex education, relationships, adult content, and protection with our children? Most still shy away from using terms like sex, sexual crimes, masturbation, menstrual cycles, live-in relationships, sexually transmitted diseases, and LGBTQ+ in classrooms.

Parents and educators must initiate conversations on these taboo topics to broaden perspectives and effectively educate adolescents. Emphasizing healthy relationships, providing factual information, and addressing their queries are crucial. Misinformation can misguide teens, underscoring the importance of accurate guidance.

The value of money: With the rise of nuclear families and both parents working, time is often compensated with money and gifts for children, fulfilling their demands. Lionel Robbins, an economist, theorized that while human wants are unlimited, the means to satisfy them are limited.

“Even the richest person on earth cannot have all that he desires.”

Children must be nurtured to understand the importance of money and resources, encouraging judicious use. Instilling the value of money from an early age, including the habit of saving, prepares them to spend wisely as they grow up. Moreover, teaching children about financial planning and budgeting instils a sense of responsibility and empowers them to distinguish between needs and wants. It equips them with essential skills to manage their finances effectively, fostering independence and resilience in their financial decision-making.

Developing hobbies: Developing hobbies helps unwind and destress, providing happiness and a sense of accomplishment. Identifying children's skills and encouraging hobbies fosters complete engagement. Engagement means losing oneself in an activity, bringing contentment and fulfilment.

Handling social media: Social media, over-the-top networks, television, and the internet are now accessible to children without filters. Since we cannot prevent them from this exposure, it is important to ensure that our kids are street-smart enough to handle it. We must provide them with a safe and comfortable space to voice their concerns and ask questions. Building their confidence empowers them to say ‘No.’ Discussions about the benefits and drawbacks of social media and other platforms must remain open. We should also ensure that they trust us enough to confide in us with any problems they face on social media, including cyberbullying, scams, and interactions with sexual predators. It's crucial for them to develop a positive perspective and feel supported in sharing their problems.

Practising gratitude: We must encourage children to cultivate a habit of practising mindfulness and gratitude, even towards small things. Gratitude enhances the ability to learn and make smart decisions, balancing out negative emotions. People who frequently feel grateful are happier, less stressed, and less depressed. Moreover, gratitude improves students' performance in school. We must teach them to appreciate meaningful or valuable aspects of life. It is important to encourage them to take a moment each day to notice and acknowledge things they are thankful for. This practice will brighten their outlook, elevate their mood, and foster a more positive mindset in tackling challenges.

Universalistic outlook: Children should be given opportunities and exposed to scenarios that broaden their vision and expand their horizons. Their outlook should be constructive and optimistic, free from narrow ideologies, fostering a universalistic perspective.

"Teaching them Courage, Faith, and Strength: Courage to overcome fears, which is key to real success and leadership. Self-faith, fostering optimism and kindling hope in the heart and mind. Strength, endurance, and willpower to endure setbacks and overcome challenges."

These essential lessons, when integrated with current educational practices, will not only refine skills, enhance knowledge, and cultivate adept and successful individuals but also promote happiness, sound values, clear perceptions, and vision.

Author Karen Ravn once wrote-

“Only as high as I reach can I grow

Only as far as I seek can I go

Only as deep as I look can I see

And only as much as I dream can I be”

Let's teach our students to have ambitious goals and reach higher without compromising values and morals. Let's encourage them to strive both professionally and personally. Let's teach them to introspect and critically analyze not only external situations but also their internal thoughts and emotions. And let's teach them to dream, make persistent efforts to achieve their dreams, and grow in all aspects of life happily.

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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

A perfect teaching and learning pathways!

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