A visitor to the Teacher Plus office recently raised the question: “What have been the consequences of education for the world and society at large?” He asked us to think about two issues, specifically: who are the world’s greatest polluters, and who are the world’s greatest exploiters? The answers to both, in some sense, point to the world’s most educated societies. So, really, what has education done for us? It is not education per se that is to be blamed, but the way in which we as individuals and as members of societies have used (or not used) the content of education. This begs the question: what exactly is the content of education? Further, how does it relate to how we live our lives? The concern among some educationists and curriculum developers is how to achieve a balance between school as a space for learning not only the content of subjects, but as a space where healthy and active citizenship can be fostered. How can schools achieve true education and not just delivery of syllabi? Among the skills that need to be built among young people, apart from “learning ability” is the skill of dealing with life situations of different kinds, the ability to apply one’s emotional and intellectual knowledge to handling issues and problems that one is faced with.
Assessing situations, making judgments of different kinds, identifying, analyzing and solving problems, getting along with people, managing resources…these are the skills we need to be developing as human beings, skills that are applicable across all spheres of activity. This issue of Teacher Plus features three articles that deal with the teaching/learning of life skills. While the first looks at theatre as a modality through which life skills can be acquired, another argues for the centrality of life skills in all school curricula, and the third brings in a creative way to inculcate problem solving skills through chemistry lessons. Of course, the discussion on life skills cannot end here; it only begins. Every class potentially is a theatre of opportunity within which life skills can be learnt. It’s about sensitive and “opportunistic” teaching, making those lessons happen whenever the space permits, and about finding opportunities to create such learning spaces.