Academic proficiency alone is not enough- life skills are a must

By: Sunaina Gera, Head CSR activities, Gera Developments driving The Gera School project in Goa and CEO, Gridlines

In an era gone by, the focus was on academics and academics only. We were brought up to believe that pursuing a career in sports wasn't possible because in a country like India it was an unrealistic option. Parents only wanted their children to focus on their studies and sports were incidental. Even those who excelled in sports had limited options as the money wasn’t enough to sustain a family and the future seemed bleak and the only ones who actually pursued a sporting career if at all were the ones who knew they were backed by wealthy families or those who were willing came from extremely poor backgrounds and figured they anyways had nothing to lose. So with this as the background academics became the end and be all.


The next issue that crept in was how academics was taught in our schools. Academics at a point and time when the international boards had not been introduced into the Indian system and with only the local boards which were taught purely by rote, the situation was bleak. In such a scenario when the focus is only on academics and nothing else, then the quality of learning in our children is going to be affected. We needed a wave of education, a new breed, some fire, some energy. The current mode and method and had made the system lethargic and boring. Soon a new method was introduced, however only a few schools adapted to it, atleast in India. The reason being that the new system needed work. It requires a skill set not all educators possesed sadly in our current education system.


So how does this work? What is this change? All teachers are required to created lesson plans to complete the syllabus set out for them for the year. Typically a teacher can create a lesson plan for a week, a month, a semester or for the year as he or she chooses. Typically the lesson plan will have an objective, a method of teaching and then mode of delivery. This is then delivered in the classroom to the children. All very clichéd and boring. However we are now bringing a new a focus, a new approach and i.e. to introduce life skills into the lesson plans. It’s not an easy task and takes only skilled educators to implement this mode of teaching. However its path breaking and extremely gratifying once skillfully implemented. It makes learning experiential. So what’s done differently here is that a school picks its own life skills. Life skills could be financial management, relationships, empathy, etc. and so on and so forth.


Once we identify what life skills we wish to incorporate in our lesson plans, the educators set about the task of doing so over a period of couple of months. What makes this method of education so challenging and interesting for the child is that it is no longer done by rote and is not textbook oriented. It has to be created by an educator lesson by lesson. Learning is all-experiential and the child is always challenged. So lets take empathy as a life skill and we start say from pre nursery. How do we teach a 3 year old to show empathy? This would obviously be different from how we should teach a 7 year and so on and so forth. However the life skill we choose continues, it's the methodology which stays.


And this is how we make the break from the archaic mould and mind set of academic proficiency as the ultimate peak and epitome of learning vs an all round learning. We need to give the child an all round development rather than focus on an only a scores based education. Our system needs change. 

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