By: Jan Israel A. Altar
San Pablo City Science
Integrated High School
Grades have always represented learning in our society and even in our educational system. High marks directly determine that a School performed great in terms of designing and implementing the curriculum. Nevertheless, does it really say that we have taught them well? Well enough to be able to make great choices in life and enable them to truly formulate solutions to the real-life problems that we want them to solve and answer in their future endeavor?
I am not saying that we need to disregard everything we have in our curriculum but to discard some and focus on much more essential skills that our learners will more likely use or apply when we are no longer there to guide them.
Today’s generation is undeniably equipped with knowledge. When you ask them about something, they can give you a logical answer. Students are trained hard to answer multiple-choice questions, all in preparation for taking entrance and licensure examinations. We measure our success in planning and teaching with test scores and when the MPS are high we interpret it as we have obtained mastery level in our students. But did we really succeed in terms of developing mastery? Were we able to prepare them for what lies ahead in their lives? Among all those things that we have taught them, how much of those can they really apply and use to face the real world? How about handling failures, making decision and judgements, self-sustainability, preparedness and survival, and other essential skills like basic cooking, maintenance and repair, public speaking, etc.? After their basic education, we are sending them into the wide uncertainties of the real-life without these things that truly matters to survive and get pass all possible hurdles that they may encounter.
Teachers are already having problems with how crowded our curriculum is, so definitely adding something would make the problem even worse. So, what possible solution can we make to prepare our learners for this fast-approaching and ever-changing future? What is it that we are missing?
Basic Life Skills is a group of psychosocial competencies and interpersonal skills that help people make informed decisions, solve problems, think critically and creatively, communicate effectively, build healthy relationships, empathize with others, and cope with and manage their lives in a healthy and productive manner. Life skills may be directed toward personal actions or actions toward others, as well as toward actions to change the surrounding environment to make it conducive to health.”, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Instead of preparing them to perform well academically and receive high grades, why not focus on developing their Basic Life Skills?
With the integration of Basic Life Skills in education, teenagers will gain the foundational abilities needed to transition to productive adulthood. These skills include managing stress, dealing with complex and challenging emotions, exercising positivism, improving self-esteem and empathy, establishing personal boundaries, handling difficult situations, interacting confidently, setting goals, making decisions and choices, solving problems, and thinking critically.
It is about time for us to focus less or even consider doing away with information and knowledge acquisition and replace traditional assessment strategies that use objective tests. Instead, we need to redirect our curriculum, instruction, strategies, and even research to develop learning activities that will make our learners create something and demonstrate or display these basic life skills.
Our world is continuously evolving, and our failure to adapt to these changes and see what really matters will result in graduates of Basic Education that are struggling and drowning in the challenges, demands, and expectations of the present time. When academic proficiency is not enough, basic life skills are a must, and our duty calls — how will you respond?