Life Skills is one of the most underrated, disregarded and un-valued subjects at school.
At the same time, it is the most important subject of them all. Life Skills is even more important than Physics and Mathematics. Why? The answer invites us to meditate on the origins of our current education system. We have inherited it from the ancient Greeks. For the ancient Greeks, education was a tool for shaping the character of the youth, with the aim to produce morally healthy members of society. The scientific subjects served as a support of a good character. What does this mean? That means for the ancient Greeks, Life Skills was the main subject and all the other subjects were support subjects. I would like to propose to you, dear teacher and principal, that Life Skills is still the most important subject. The fact that it is called “non-promotional aka support subject” does not change the fact that the school is meant to be a place where the youth learn to understand and navigate life. Life Skills is the only subject that fully prepares a child for the real world.
The following experiment will illustrate what that implies. Imagine there were two students who both just finished matric. One had only science subjects from Grade 1-12, but not a single lesson in Life Skills. The other one had no single lesson on sciences, but she had 12 years of Life Skills. The only thing they have in common is the fact the both learned reading, writing and how to work with numbers. Both high school graduates decide not to go for further studies, but decide to go straight into the working world. Who do you think will do better in life? Is it going to be the one who had science only or the one who had Life Skills only? Here is a hint. What benefits can you derive from knowing Chemistry, when your current situation asks you to make a decision based on understanding how the world works. Life Skills is the only subject which prepares you for life and thus it is high time that we take Life Skills seriously.
If the aim for school is to give learners the skills for life and if the subject Life Skills is in harmony with the real aim of education, then it is the duty of every teacher to regard his/her own subject as a window to the world. To connect your subject with what is going on in the real world is like adding a teaspoon of Life Skills in your subject. Now you understand that you are supporting this young character with knowledge about the world.
Say these words every time you are about to enter a classroom: I am here to teach you about the world. This lesson has an element of Life Skills, too. This lesson will prepare you for life.
* Shapumba ya Shapumba is the founder of Natural Learning Education consultancy. He teaches how to obtain a+ in any subject (students) and the secret to extraordinary teaching. For booking:firstname.lastname@example.org or 0812786925.