Life is a dynamic, constantly subjected to a state of flux. The ups and downs that human beings deal with are major characteristics of life. It had been rightly said that life is not bed of roses rather it is a battlefield. Every human being is soldier who continuously fights against all odds in order to become victorious.
Situations change and so do the people but one who fails to adapt to changing conditions is termed as maladjusted. In this context Charles Darwin has rightly said,” It is not the strongest species that survive nor the most intelligent but the more responsibe to change”.
In order to lead a quality life we need to learn some life skills. The acquisition of life skills is facilitated through the process of education. An educated individual is more adaptive to changing situations.
Life skills are a sum total of all strategies that promote positive behavior among humans which allows them to deal effectively with the demands of life. According to the principle of individual differences, each human is a unique creation with varied potentialities. The amount of exposure that one receives to upgrade oneself defines the quality of his/her life. The more we learn, the more we acquire and the more we upgrade determines the level of success that we can attain.
Some of the important life skills identified by the WHO are
- Decision Making
- Problem Solving
- Creative Thinking
- Critical Thinking
- Effective Communication
- Interpersonal Relationship
- Coping with Stress
Let us proceed to enumerate the role of education in the acquisition and development of these life skills.
- Education and Decision Making:
The process of selecting a logical option from all the available choices is termed as decision making. Decision making follows a critical approach in which a person must assess the pros and cons of each option before making a particular decision.
Education brings about a great deal of awareness regarding various life situations which facilitates the process of decision making. An educated individual is expected to arrive at a right decision more quickly and independently than an uneducated one. Most of the life experiences that we attain through formal and informal education positively influence our decision making ability.
2. Education and Problem Solving:
Everybody in the world is beset with some problem or the other. While moving on a path for realizing certain goals and ambitions, one may face problems which have to be solved.
In the words of Skinner, “Problem solving is a process of overcoming difficulties that appear to interfere with the attainment of the goal. It is a procedure of making adjustments inspite of interferences.”
Effective problem solving behavior can be learned through education. Formal education gives us knowledge about various problem solving strategies such as algorithms and heuristics which can be applied in practical situations in order to solve a problem whereas informal education and past life experiences make us strong and sensible enough to tackle life problems independently and effectively. A person can learn to solve problem by actually experiences the problem. Thus we may say that problem solving is an individual phenomenon and involves the exercise of cognitive abilities of higher order and persistent struggling on the conscious as well as unconscious levels.
3. Education and Creative Thinking:
Creative thinking refers to a person`s ability to create something new, novel or unusual. The thinking of scientists, artists or inventers is an example of such type of thinking. The essence of education in acquiring and upgrading creative thinking skills is discussed as under :
- Motivate Students to find the answers:
As a teacher, refrain yourself from spoon feeding direct answers to the students. Motivate the learners to find out their own solutions to the problems.
- Teacher as a facilitator:
Rather than practicing teacher-centered learning, the teacher should engage the student in active conversations and group discussions. The teacher should play the role of facilitator and guide the student towards the attainment of educational goals.
- Sit in round tables rather than desks:
This method aims to establish open interaction among students in a class. The students actively indulge in discussions and generate their original creative ideas rather than following traditional teacher-centered linear learning. This style is often referred as Harkness style of teaching
- Understand the concept:
Instead of practicing rote learning, the students should be encouraged to understand the concept thoroughly and thereafter they must be motivated to frame their own generalizations which can be used while answering.
4. Education and Critical Thinking:
Critical thinking is a type of thinking that aims to discover the truth by keeping aside one’s own personal beliefs, faiths and opinions. A good critical thinker is usually well-informed, curious and flexible in his approach.
Development of critical thinking through education:
- Past experiences and relevant knowledge:
Thinking requires some basis. It always depends upon some past experiences of the learner. Relevant knowledge and experience helps to develop the approach of critical thinking. Lack of proper education deteriorates the quality of thinking.
- Adequate freedom and flexibility:
Unnecessary restrictions should not be imposed on the process of thinking. If the past experiences do not serve the purpose, then one must direct one’s thinking towards the formation of new relationships and associations.
- Appropriate motivation:
There is always a motive behind any valid thinking process. It helps in channelizing the energy and makes us involved in the task of thinking. Thinking is always a purposeful process and in the absence of certain aims or ends, one cannot proceed on a right track.