Textbook education isn’t sufficient for students, life skills is the need of hour for success

By- Dr Sumit Narula, INN/Gwalior, @infodeaofficial

Algebra might not always come to your rescue, being well versed with problem-solving methods will. A dire situation might not call for the verses of Keats, but call for quick and logical thinking. The sooner the importance of secondary skill sets is recognised, the better. Focusing entirely on textbook education is not sufficient when it comes to facing hardships and becoming successful.

There happens to be a huge divide between what is taught in the classrooms and what actually comes into play. Teaching life skills must be a regular part of our education system in schools, colleges and Universities. Even though these could be inculcated through appropriate parenting methods, it happens to be an important responsibility of schools and educational institutions to prepare their pupils for the challenges of the future.

Amidst the chaos in everyday lives, the stress levels are at an all-time high for students and adults alike. Whether it’s dealing with a stressful exam, coming to terms with a grave loss, communicating effectively with people or leaving a mark on the world, adopting a casual approach today simply doesn’t count. It’s necessary to deal with usual problems and unusual dilemmas.

Life skills refer to a set of a pragmatic approaches and practical abilities of the human behaviour that when reinforced positively helps one to cope with adversities and challenges.

Although these vary vastly across cultural contexts, certain skills are universally accepted as being preliminary constituents of a one’s persona and these are what make him or her productive members of the society. The list consists of life skills comprising of creative thinking, critical thinking, effective communication, interpersonal relationships, and self-awareness, coping with stress, trauma and loss, problem-solving, decision making, assertiveness and empathy.

With life skills ,already being a component in several western education models, India is on the brink of a paradigm shift with regards to its adaptability as intensive teaching, rather than an optional extra reserved for workshops.

This is the need of the hour as the World Development Report 2018 “Learning to Realise Education’s Promise” ranks India second in the list of countries with the least prospects of having a quality soft skills education. The claim is supported by World Bank in a statement that criticised the primary education system for failing to educate students to succeed in life.

The life skills are now more relevant than ever before, courtesy to the increasing competitiveness and demands of the dynamic lifestyle. The life skills make the students’ self-dependent, confident and adept at problem-solving from an early age.

An individual might, of course, be inclined to learn these through personal experience but it is considered relevant and more beneficial when coming from an expert who can effectively help them make use of these skills in their daily lives.

At later stages of life, one might reminisce about not being taught the ways to deal with scenarios during their formal education. This opens up the possibility of inclusion of such tactics in the learning process for preteens and teens.

In addition to it, certain circumstances demand a better presence of mind and vouch for more attention. Impulsive thinking and error of judgement end to tangle the loose ends instead of tying them up. This is where life skills come into play. Put simply, they appear to be a set of fundamental set of skills that help us navigate through life. The regular practical knowledge can improve students’ soft skills. Even workshop on skills development can prove much help for the students.

Teaching Life skills are not restricted to a specific section of the society, it can be used as a tool for women empowerment and education of the underprivileged. The Education Ministry is in the talks of mandating life skills as a part of higher and secondary education across a number of schools and colleges in the Indian subcontinent. Premier education institutes in India including the IIMs could be among the pioneers offering graduate level courses in real life skills.


The list of life skills starts with decision making. If there are is a multitude of options present, it becomes important to select the appropriate course of action.

Using generic or non-conventional methods to a resolution of problems, including making use of artificial intelligence is an important aspect of human psychology. Sharpening of these skills contributes towards better cognition and reasoning upon maturity.

Creative thinking or lateral thinking is a direct reference to ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking. It asks for an entirely new way of tackling common problems. Critical thinking or perspicacity is different from creative thinking as it includes objectively analysing facts before reaching a conclusive judgement.


Effective communication might seem like a minuscule issue, but the way one communicates is a deciding factor upon the social standing that will be attained in professional life.  Improving relations on a personal level ensures independent success.


Self-awareness or mindfulness is being conscious of one’s abilities and the way to properly execute them. Assertiveness is expression of opinions and views in a persuasive manner. Empathizing is what makes a good human being even better.


Equanimity is the stability of mind and overall calmness that helps maintain composure even in the direst situations. Coping with stress, trauma and loss might be hard to come to terms with without proper guidance and assistance. Resilience lies in the adaptability of both personal and professional lives.

 The definitive list of the set of soft skills is often debated, but the educators, professionals;        even UNICEF- all unanimously agree that students with a better understanding of these abilities have a higher likelihood of performing better in their personal and professional lives when compared to their counterparts who fail to make use of them.


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