One of the most asked questions by learners in high school is, ‘when will I ever use this in real life after high school?’ The question prompts teaching of more applicable skills in schools. The skills learnt in school should be applied to the daily lives of the learners. According to Robert Schank, a cognitive scientist, schools should teach skills that the students are interested in to prevent them from being miserable and bored in schools (Strauss, 2012). Schank points out that several subjects such as chemistry and history might not be impactful in students’ lives after high school unless they are directly tied to the careers that they want to pursue (Strauss, 2012). Instead of only teaching students subjects that they need to memorize to graduate high school, lessons on life skills should be prioritized. The life skills that students can be taught in high school include time management, communication, cooking, financial literacy, and leadership.
Cooking and nutrition are essential life skill that students need to be taught. Cooking skills include lessons on how to prepare balanced meals and special meals for different groups such as children, patients and the elderly. Adolescents should be educated on proper food choices so that they can develop healthy eating habits in their lives (Sadeghovlad, 2017). Cooking skills are particularly necessary when it comes to the increase in obesity cases, which are attributed to unhealthy eating habits. There is an increase in fast food outlets, including several advertisements about these foods on the media. Technology has also made fast foods more accessible with delivery options which can be accessed with a click of a button. In some cases, parents might not be able to provide the necessary cooking skills, since they depend on take outs, due to busy schedules. More families are reliant of fast foods and others processed foods which are more convenient and fit within their lifestyles. Adolescents who are brought up in such homes are more likely to adopt the same patterns in their food consumption. Schools therefore have a chance to alter such patterns by teaching the students how to cook and the value of nutrition and balanced diets. Cooking is a life-long skill that is applicable to every individual’s life.
Students should learn to manage their time, not only for school purposes but also for to efficiently apply the skill outside school. Schools often have a schedule which forces kids into managing their time. There are bells, bells and other schedules which guide the students on how to go about their school day. When the students get back home, their parents provide them with a schedule to ensure they complete their homework and other assigned tasks at home. Despite the organization within the school and at home, the students are unable to manage their time by themselves. There are several distractions and activities competing for people’s attention outside school and this necessitate learning time management skills. Outside strict school schedules, the students are unable to manage their time and often find themselves distracted by other activities such as the internet. Learning how to manage time is a skill that enables them to live a more meaningful and successful life. The skill can be used both for personal and professional life. Time management skills can be taught through various theoretical and practical ways such as through sports. Sports can impart positive youth development by teaching skills such as time management (Gould & Carson, 2008).
Leadership is an integral part of our lives. Life skills education I high school can also impart leadership skills to the students. Youth are constantly told that they are the leaders of the future and yet leadership skills are not prioritized. Leadership skills can be taught in schools and students need to have the knowledge. There is a crop of students who are taking up on leadership roles in different areas such as fighting for climate change. Students are capable of being leaders at high school level and as they advance past high school. The schools have an opportunity to model them into leaders in their areas of interest by teaching leadership skills. Leadership skills such as critical thinking can be taught through subjects such as philosophy. Critical thinking enables the students to be innovative in their lives and careers. The world is highly oriented towards innovations and learning such skills places them in a better position to live successful lives after high school. Schools offer platforms to equip students with skills that enable them to build a life beyond high school (Hayness-Tross, 2015). Leadership is a skill that the students will need at the work place and in their homes with their families.
Communication skills not only enhance the relationship between the teachers and students, but also improve their relationship with others. The educational system is dependent on the communication between the students and their teachers or instructors. Students receive instruction and knowledge through various communication media and formats. Good communication skills enhance the comprehension of the academic work. Communication skills also impart human skills on the students. By learning how to communicate better, the students are able to form meaningful relationships in school and outside. Communication skills enable interactions among students in the school (Khan et al, 2017). The same interaction skills can be used to foster interpersonal and presentation skills which are essential to the lives of the students after high school. Communication skills include problem solving skills which not only bolster relations with others but also go a long way in creating a peaceful nation. Communication skills also promote tolerance. The students will encounter different people from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. It is therefore important for them to learn how to interact with people who have different experiences and world views from them. Communication skills are also crucial in the workplace and they will be expected to have the skills in whichever career paths they choose. Human relations are built upon communication and teachers should teach the students how to communicate better beyond the instructional communication in classrooms and within the school compound.
Financial literacy is a life skill that is most times ignored in school settings. Less than 20 states require high school students to take personal finance course (Frazier, 2019). Once the students have completed high school and pursued other things such as employment, they are completely clueless on how to manage their money. Some of the students end up earning a lot of money but due to inability to make smart money decisions they spend it on unnecessary expenditures (Frazier, 2019). Students should be taught how to file their tax. Most institutions do not teach students about taxes and how to file their tax returns. The students have to either find the information by themselves or get help from others. Teachers are aware that once the students transition to the workplace they are required to pay taxes and yet they do not impart this information. Taxation is an element of citizens’ life and students should be taught how it works, including how to file tax return and the different types of tax. The other aspect to financial literacy is budgeting and savings. Adolescents are at an age where they are transitioning to adulthood which comes with certain financial freedoms and responsibilities. They should be taught how to manage the money they earn or are given by their parents. The culture of saving and having emergency funds should also be fostered in high school.
Arguments against life skills are based on the cost of including the courses in the schools. Implementing the courses in life skills listed above would require tailored curriculum and specialists trained in the respective courses. It would require an increase in the number of instructors in school to offer the courses. However a study by Gilbert Botvin and Kenneth Griffin (2014) revealed that life skills training reduces about 38 US Dollars for every one dollar invested in the program. Life skills improve the individual and social competence of the students, which prevents them from getting into certain behaviors such as drug abuse. Life skills training are effective in preventing abuse of marijuana, alcohol, and other drugs. A reduction in the abuse of drugs reduces the cost of rehabilitation and other health issues that emanate from misuse of the drugs. The duo also established that life skills also reduce other health risks, which in turn reduces the burden on health care. For instance, cooking skills are likely to reduce cases of obesity from eating of high fat and sugar content fast foods. The resources that would have been put in the healthcare system to manage such diseases can therefore be redirected to other sectors of the economy.
Life skills are beneficial to high school students for several reasons. There are many life skills that can be included in high school education including cooking, communication, leadership, financial literacy, and time management. Cooking skills equips the students with knowledge on nutrition and ability to choose and make healthy meals, which reduces consumption of unhealthy fatty foods thereby reducing cases of obesity. Leadership is integral and enables the students to build a meaningful life beyond high school. Communication skills enable students to interact with and create relations with people from diverse backgrounds, resulting in a more peaceful country. Time management enables students to manage their time better outside the strict and organized school environment. Financial literacy empowers the students to make better money decisions and learn how taxation works. Despite the initial cost of implementing the programs, research shows that teaching life skills is less costly in the long run. Investing in life skills training reduces the involvement of young people in vices such as drug abuse thereby cutting costs related to managing drug issues. Healthy eating habits from cooking skills reduce lifestyle diseases got from poor eating habits.
Botvin, G. J., & Griffin, K. W. (2014). Life skills training: Preventing substance misuse by enhancing individual and social competence. New Directions for Youth Development, 2014(141), 57-65. https://doi.org/10.1002/yd.20086
Frazier, L. (2019, August 29). 5 reasons personal finance should be taught in school. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizfrazierpeck/2019/08/29/5-reasons-personal-finance-should-be-taught-in-school/#239f2cbc5178
Gould, D., & Carson, S. (2008). Life skills development through sport: Current status and future directions. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 1(1), 58-78. https://doi.org/10.1080/17509840701834573
Haynes-Tross, Esther, (2015). The Importance of Developing Leadership Skills in Grades 6-8 Middle School Students From the Perspective of Administrators, Teachers, and Students. Education Doctoral. Paper 230.
Khan, A., Khan, S., Ul-Islam, S., & Khan, M. (2017). Communication Skills of a Teacher and Its Role in the Development of the Students’ Academic Success. Journal of Education and Practice, 8(1).
Sadegholvad, S., Yeatman, H., Parrish, A., & Worsley, A. (2017). What should be taught in secondary schools’ nutrition and food systems education? Views from prominent food-related professionals in Australia. Nutrients, 9(11), 1207. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9111207
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