UAE: Ask any employer what one of the most important factors when hiring an employee is, and almost always he’ll say communication skills. Knowing the square route of 144 may be impressive, but life skills are what ultimately get you through, well, life.
One question which has been doing the rounds for years is: Why don’t we teach life skills in schools?
In Dubai, life skills are very much part and parcel of the schooling process, and that is in large part down to the UAE’s vision to be an innovative and forward-thinking economy.
“Students are not the same as they used to be a decade ago. With time, systems need to change. With new curiosity, with a new mind-set, with exposure from a very young age, it is important to guide them and mould them accordingly,” Arshi Alam, school counselor at Credence High School told Khaleej Times.
In many cases, children may know things – academically speaking – but they are not aware.
This is where mindfulness comes into play, as well as awareness and acceptance, Alam said.
“Embedding life skills in the curriculum has become important. Students are exposed to everyday situations, which they face or will face in the future. It prepares them and makes them more proactive and sensitive to the happenings around them,” she added.
For Ashok Kumar, CEO of The Indian High School, teaching life skills in school is just as important as teaching mathematics, science or English. And the reason is because it equips students for life “outside the classroom”.
“The aim of education today is to prepare students for the future, whether it is going to college for further studies, taking on a job, building successful relationships or as citizens of the world.”
“Yoga, games, sports and value education all teach you to be in the moment and do your best,” he said.
But why is there such a great emphasis in schools today when it comes to teaching manners, habits and behaviours? Well, because the need is greater, Thomas Farquhar, Head of School at GEMS Nations Academy told Khaleej Times.
“The images and the conduct that students can readily observe on TV, in films, and on the internet range far beyond the boundaries of good taste, good behaviour, and good sense. We also now have a global population that travels so widely, that the local customs and cultural norms that helped to guide behaviours are now less effective,” he said.
And in a country which houses more than 200 different nationalities, these life skills are vital. But who does the job fall on? The most important impact is modelling, therefore it’s the adult who bears the main responsibility, Farquhar said.
“If adults in school, and in the home for that matter, exhibit patterns of decency, of respect for others, of courtesy and kindness, the children will naturally be inclined to adopt these behaviors.”
So, at a time when the boundaries between work and play can often become blurred, habits of mindfulness, of taking time to de-stress, of getting organised, are all skills that may be of particular relevance given the fast pace of modern life – for adults as well as for children.
© Khaleej TimesFeb 2017