Considering myself a pronounced critic of the current education system, I was eagerly looking forward to listening to the contents of the radio show titled This American Life which focuses on prevailing tenets of education. The beginning of the talk show hosted by Ira Glass was typical of any other radio talk characterized with coverage of publicly debated topic. However, it was the preceding contents of the show that underpinned the pertinence of the topic if not the presenters. Based on my belief system, I was of the opinion that teachers and school administration were to be blamed for the under-performance and ineffectiveness of the current education curriculum. It suffices to note that this assumptions and opinions were founded on public and political discourse that was prevalent in the mass media. However, from the proceedings of the discussions, it became apparent that the underlying problem in the education systems stemmed from erroneous foundation of the education system. Consistent with the process of development, which constitutes the elements of biological, cognitive and social emotional process, our education system has been characterized with overemphasis on the cognitive aspect of learning and development.
I personally concur with James Heckmans assertion that that there exists an additional dimension responsible for success factor within individuals apart from the cognitive aspect that has been predominantly qualified by tests and examinations. Disregarding the empirical evidence presented by scientific studies, it is apparent that the leading world innovators were not exemplary models of the education systems as depicted by Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Richard Branson. However, these individuals exhibit identical worldview and belief systems that contrast with the cognitive based learning system. On the other hand, I find social skills based education system more equitable and progressive than the traditional exam based education system as proposed by James Heckman. While it is a common knowledge that IQ levels are inherent within individuals and therefore cannot be varied significantly, the development of personal traits and soft skills are more plastic hence easily taught and learned by students.
I believe that social skills are more character based as opposed to cognitive skills. Vis a vis, children from varied backgrounds have an equal opportunity of learning essential elements of social skills such as a self-control, positivity, patient and hard work. I believe that it is the quality of the skills and traits of educated individuals that tend to separate them from the uneducated. I further posit that lifetime success should be underlined with the mastery of both fluid and crystal intelligence. In my opinion, both forms of intelligences are hinged on the facets of social skills which can either be taught in classrooms are be acquired through experiences and relationships.
Based on the numerous findings documented by the talk show, there exists overwhelming evidence on the role of social skills in advancing lifetime success of individuals. I believe that stakeholders in the education system should acknowledge the limitation of the cognitive based curriculum in addressing the societal issues such as poverty, psychological trauma and domestic violence among the students. The integration of curriculum based on training of teachers and teaching of students on soft skills and fundamental personality traits will highly advance the multidimensional aspects of lifespan development and serve to improve the living conditions of highly vulnerable groups in the society.
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