Thursday, November 17, 2016

Day 17: What They Should Teach In Schools

Catch them young is the new mantra kids (Photo credit)
During research for this post, I ended with really long list of things that are important in life and should be taught to kids. I also realised that some of the skills are more of the parents' responsibility to teach at home. To me, school has always been the great leveller. We wear uniforms, learn from the same books, participate in the same extra curricular and travel by the same school bus. So it is important for the schools to play a bigger role. Move away from pure academics like history dates and reproductive systems of frogs to life skills and practical knowledge that will come in good stead in real life.

We live in a complex world. More than it was when we were kids. There are numerous distractions, indiscriminate use of technology, growing competition - just to name a few challenges our kids have to navigate through their childhood. And hence the skills they should have should also be different from what we learnt in school.

Here are a few things that I have short listed after paring down my list:

1. Reading, writing habits. These comprise 2 of the 3Rs a child should know as basic education. Being able to write a structured and well articulated piece is a skill which needs honing. And I can't even begin talking about why reading is such a life changing skill! Apart from academic work, kids should habitually read and write to hone the two skills. They can be given simple daily challenges on simple topics. (In fact, I made one such weekly challenge for my nieces aged 7 and 10 to coincide with this blogging challenge!) Or asked to write about the book they've been reading.

2. Expressing emotions: A friend of mine has her son go to a school where they regularly have feelings hour. The children are encouraged to talk about things that made them feel good, bad, happy, sad etc and share it with the class. Communicating what you feel is very important. And being able to express different emotions will only make children more emotionally intelligent. If you look up online, EQ has left the much coveted IQ behind as one of the most important skills necessary for success in life.

3. Managing failure: From what I know, the new trend is for proud mommies to post their kids' photos all over Whatsapp and Facebook for just much as getting an A. And I don't blame them since, as a society, we celebrate success. Social media is full of things we did great and no mention of where we failed. I think it is important to inculcate in children a feeling of perseverance rather than making a failure a setback in their lives. "It is okay to fail" - this is a life lesson that your kids will thank you for. Expressing emotions can come in very handy here and save a failed kid from developing an unexpressed complex.

4. Cyber safety: I am saying this is the duty of the school because parents may want to get their children gadgets just because they can afford them. or to keep up with the Joneses. Or perhaps children might borrow them from friends and use them in school, friends' homes or elsewhere. To ensure that our children are safe no matter where they try and get online, it is important to include this in the computer class curriculum. Inform them about safety and security. In fact, even parents should be given an advisory on the making their children responsible netizens if they wish to allow access to kids.

5. A growth mindset: This could be a mindset moment for a child. Simply put a growth mindset is telling a child that he or she can improve with hard work. As opposed to a fixed mindset which says that you are born with what you have and cannot get better. Encouraging children to get better with practice and perseverance is the best way to motivate them to take strides forward in any subject.

6. Boy-girl stuff: This is just the opposite of what happens in schools today. And I don't mean just the sex ed class. Emotions towards the opposite sex are a crucial part of growing up. It's not just about practical guide to safe sex but also the emotional implications of getting involved physically. It is about explaining to growing children how the hormones that are changing in their body will have mental and emotional implications too. Parents aren't too good at "the talk". At least not in our country. But teenage can be quite a confusing time. And knowing that it is okay to feel the highs and lows that kids do at that time can ease their minds a lot.

7. Practical things: From law to personal finance, from time management to first aid and self defence - there is no dearth of things kids will require in real life. Different subjects can be taught in different classes so that as children grow they are armed with relevant knowledge that they might need.

Here is another resource on 20 skills not taught in schools.

Which are the skills that make it to your list? I'd love to hear any that you'd like to add to this list.

This post is a part of #NaBloPoMo which stands for National Blog Posting Month hosted by BlogHer.


  1. Awesome post! So true. I agree with all of the things you said. Thank you for writing this:)

  2. Very good pointers Suman. So true! By the time i completed my engineering i dont knew how to change a light bulb or fix a fuse. That's how our education system is.

    1. Practical knowledge is what is missing from our curriculum! And we should cover that gap!

  3. Interesting and valid points you got there Suman. A lot of practical stuff should be taught than history dates or anatomy of frog. If I force myself to think why, I see that these odd lessons may be useful for someone who later takes these fields as career in life. I feel that education should be more practical so that we can develop interest and children learn from experiencing/seeing.
    A good post!