It is absolutely true that soft skills coupled with general practical life skills are integral in achieving real success in life. There are many people in the world today who have gone through the most advanced education systems, but still lack these crucial components. There are those who have graduated from colleges ranked as the topmost globally based on the quality of education they offer. Surprisingly, these individuals with the best degrees still exhibit major weaknesses as far as their day to day lives are concerned. More often than not, one may find other ‘less learned’ people who are largely successful and happy. To a great extent, this is owed to their ability to approach life equipped with relevant practical skills that have far-reaching implications even in their interpersonal relationships. I was much aware of this fact but watching the videos and going through the eBook enlightened me more in this regard. The content of the said materials aided me gain much insight as I reflected on the implications of having such skills, or being without them.
If people can be properly educated and still fail when it comes to real life important matters, what does that say about the education system? Is a complete overhaul necessary or will a few changes in the curriculum do the magic? Back in high school, I remember my math teacher who was perhaps one of the best mathematicians around that time. He was gifted yes, but there was a problem when it came to delivering in class. He could not quite explain the concepts well, yet he worked out the sums perfectly on the board. Most of us were not so fast in grasping the mathematical jargon so quite naturally, we had to ask for more clarification. This made him angry. Matters were not made any better when other members of staff got wind of what was happening. The school principal had to talk to him, but he never responded positively. This led to strained relationships with his colleagues as well as students. He got stressed up and started drinking, a development that led to poor delivery in class. We later learnt he was facing worse problems in his life. Poor financial management explained why he had a burden of three loans that he was not even in a position to service. Some financial institutions were about to auction his property, 500 hectares of land that he had inherited from his father. These are just but a few of his woes that were in the public domain.
So what was wrong with our teacher? His disengagement and mistakes at work had led to low productivity and strained relationships in professional circles. In as much as he was learned, he had failed in a wide range of interpersonal dynamics. His workplace relations were strained, and his personal life was generally in a mess because he had failed to make right decisions. He did not understand his priorities well. In many ways, his is not an isolated case. Many more people do not understand the implications of their acts or omissions. For instance, people sign work agreements and contracts blindly. Some just commit themselves to policies they do not even understand.
Examining the life of the tutor as illustrated above leaves one wondering what the role of the education system should be when it comes to life skills. I appreciate that some colleges have introduced ‘Life Skills’ as an area of study; a Unit one must at least pass before proceeding to the next level/academic year. However, much might not be achieved if the mentality among students that all they are required to do to succeed in life is just pass their exams. This is why a student who, for instance, performed excellently in such a subject finds himself in the same soup as our teacher above. Therefore, the practical aspect of this subject should be greatly emphasized, as opposed to the theoretical perspective of it.
I find the problems in my tutor’s case so interconnected. Does this then point to a common denominator as solution? The answer is yes. It may not be so fair to blame the person of the teacher, rather the education system that prepared him for life. His parents may not get off the hook either. They might have left all the responsibility on his teachers, which should not have been the case. He may have had the technical know-how of his field of specialization, but that formed only one aspect of his life. Perhaps his parents knew he needed the practical life skills but assumed he would get them at school. He graduated as a teacher, but that alone was not enough guarantee that he was going to succeed in life. Other students never get enough guidance and counseling when it comes to career choice (Wesseler 76). How is anyone expected to be happy and work enthusiastically when they are in disciplines where they lack passion? My father had to relinquish his job as a banker to pursue a career in journalism because that is what he wanted. He always says he is glad he did that because he felt happier after the career shift. In this breath, it is important to note that the ability to make wise decisions is part of the soft skills. But even to do that calls for better guidance to kids when they are still young, for that is how a good foundation is built.
It is a fact that people equipped with life skills will approach life challenges with more confidence and greater awareness. People with an edge in financial literacy will find it easier to protect and manage their money, identifying and grabbing new opportunities to grow it (Singleton 152). They will have a better understanding as regards credit use, investing, insurance, simple economic theory, and personal budgeting. Even those in public offices entrusted with managing the country’s resources will perform better, avoiding blunders that cost the public millions of dollars. Similarly, those more informed on the dynamics of career will know how to work diligently and professionally deal with people they encounter in the workplace. The effect of this is high productivity achieved through improved individual and collective performance (Singleton 152). Clearly, the case of my tutor illustrated above leaves one with no doubt that he was not equipped with the said skills (Winfield 120). Simple concepts like knowing what is healthy or otherwise to eat or avoid consuming are broadly derived from general practical life skills.
In conclusion, the materials’ content proved to be generally informative. If I had a chance to meet Mr. Jackson, I would tell him his content helped me realize how interconnected various aspects of success in life are as far as simple decisions based on life skills are concerned. I also realized that every decision made in life has consequences, positive or otherwise. In addition, I learned from the eBook that life skills are more than what is provided in the classroom. Our school system has not given enough provisions for practical life skills. It is my view that more should be done in that respect.
Singleton, W T. The Analysis of Practical Skills. London: MTP, 2008. Print.
Wesseler, Marlis. Life Skills. Regina: Coteau Books, 2006. Print.
Winfield, Ian. Learning to Teach Practical Skills: A Self-Instruction Guide. New York: Nichols Pub. Co, 2009. Print.