The Role of Soft Skills in Education: Preparing Students for a Globalised World
The Role of Soft Skills in Education: Preparing Students for a Globalised World
Soft skills are the essential core of the human personality and a strong set of soft skills ensures overall success in life
Equipping children with a strong character and developing qualities of resilience, patience, empathy, and cooperation is key to taking on the globalized world
A human being is as much social as he or she is an individual with a specific identity. None of us, no matter who we are, can live an isolated existence, cut off from the rest of the world.
Alternatively, we can neither be hyper-social, imposing ourselves and our views on others, without any consideration for the rights and preferences of those around us.
As social beings, we need to take care not to encroach upon the carefully curated boundaries within which we deal with each other.
A key essence of being human is the balance. Human beings, if trained well, can develop this amazing ability to establish a balance between extremes. This comes by adopting certain skills and practicing them consistently so that we become habitually balanced beings.
But, more importantly, the balance comes from the awareness of our multi-dimensional existence and by harnessing that awareness to a level that one becomes naturally conscious of their multi-dimensional existence.
Being a multi-dimensional creature, a human being needs an education that reflects his status and equips him to successfully deal with all the dimensions of his existence.
Therefore, the focus of education should be the perfection of character and when that happens, the human spirit is naturally elevated to a plain from where a person deals with every element of the society with grace and aplomb!
Any imbalance in the personality leads to imbalance in the society, that is the reason why we see spiritual, moral, social, economic and ecological imbalance in the world today.
The real education is only that which equips the learners with the tools to deal with the demands of the social challenges, spiritual urges as well as emotional impulses.
As conscious beings, with the ability to contemplate about the realities of the universe as well as equipped with the ability to influence the society, humans need the right set of skills and learnings to play the positive role in the society that they are designed for by the Creator.
It is natural for humans to seek peace and balance in life. It is natural for us to develop bonds with other humans and establish relationship with all forms of creation and environment.
Nature and nurture
All relationships and engagements call for social and emotional maturity, which only comes with sustained nurturing and conscious upbringing.
In order to help children grow with the right sense of their multiple faculties and help them harness their various potentialities, it is essential to develop self as well as social awareness among them.
Human nature, particularly of children, is essentially unblemished but with passage of time and exposure to various elements of the society it gets polluted.
Only when the human nature meets inspired nurturing can we create personalities that will be ready to any future challenges, be it globalised or localised.
Here are some of the areas that need to be focused to acquire the right set of soft skills:
Human being is a social creature and learning to deal amicably with all social elements should be an important element of human education.
Social skills could range from becoming a better speaker or communicator to becoming a great team member. It is essential to understand that all learners are basically being trained to become leaders of the future in some capacity. To become leaders we need to develop certain qualities such as articulating our ideas well and speaking in public. As social beings we also need to develop our ability to work in a team which could eventually help us lead a team.
Spiritual capital is the core wealth of the humans. It includes developing traits such as empathy, compassion, gratitude and cooperative nature. Kindness, gratitude and charity forms important part of a successful human being. These traits help us fulfil the true nature of being human and having a better impact on the society.
Fitness and wellbeing are essential for our balanced growth and development. The level of physical fitness we maintain and our overall wellbeing suggest our positive approach to life. Higher levels of fitness not only helps us develop physically, but it also positively impacts our mental and intellectual abilities.
Establishing a fitness and sports regime early in life will help us turn it into a lifelong habit, which will in turn have a positive impact on our health, relationships and performance.
Greater fitness also means higher energy and endurance levels which help us overcome tougher times and tackle any challenge that life throws at us intermittently.
Self-awareness is key to understanding oneself in terms of one’s strengths and weaknesses, qualities and characteristics as well as emotions and aptitudes. A person who is aware of himself/herself has a greater chance of having a situation under control and is more likely to manage the affairs more efficiently.
Self-awareness includes learning to accurately assess one’s strengths and limitations, having a positive frame of mind, and possessing a balanced sense of one’s competence and confidence.
Greater levels of self-awareness require the ability to understand how thoughts, feelings, and actions are interconnected, and how they could be harnessed to work together for a positive impact.
Social awareness involves the ability to be aware of the realities around you. It is the ability to be observant, considerate and empathetic. It is the ability to feel compassionate for others and accommodate people from different backgrounds and cultures without any inherent prejudice. It is also the ability to work with people of all levels of education, skills and understanding without any discrimination. True social awareness is neither letting the self nor the society become a hinderance in the performance of any work individual or collective work.
We have all been equipped with a wide range of emotions and emotional responses. Some of us are naturally better equipped at restraining our emotions and channelising them positively, while others struggle to do the same.
The ability to manage our emotions and impulses well is key to developing a balanced and sound personality.
Training and nurturing in this regard help students regulate behaviours, which include the ability to delay gratification, manage stress, control impulses, and face challenges affectively in order to achieve personal and educational goals.
Be a Leader
No matter how much academically or technically sound we are, it won’t be enough if we don’t possess some level of leadership skills.
Whether we like it or not, life will invariably throw at us situations and problems where we will be required to show leadership and courage to take initiatives.
Leaders are those who initiate actions, offer direction when the vision is blurred, provide inspiration through their words and action and become the vital link between people, helping solve problems through their enterprising approach.
Leadership skills are required at all stages of life and shapes a person’s personality.
Hence, educational processes should focus on this prominently to ensure students learn to take lead and initiate positive action whenever required.
Adapt and Adjust
Nothing in life is constant and permanent. Hence, life calls upon us to learn to adapt and adjust to new realities constantly. Adaptability is an essential soft skill that helps us remain on top of our game no matter what the situation might be.
An adaptive frame of mind helps us accept any challenge, any obstacle or change in life with poise and confidence.
Be a Doer
Developing the get-go attitude is essential in finding solutions in life rather than complaining about problems.
Regardless of the situation or the problem, if we inculcate within ourselves the “can do” spirit then we will be able to develop solutions to any problems in the world and problem solving skill is very handy for employment as well as entrepreneurship.
The ability to think critically, identify potential problems and develop innovative solutions can help a person go far in life.
Time is Life
Time is nothing but life and whoever has control over time has control over life. Understanding the slippery nature of time is key to appreciating the fluidity of life.
It is essential for students to learn time management early in life to make time work for them rather than working against them.
If, as students, we learn to make good use of time then naturally it will come in handy for the rest of our life.
Relationship skills help us develop, maintain and establish healthy, respectful and rewarding relationships, and to display acceptable behaviour in accordance with the established social norms.
Lucidity in expression, cooperation in positive initiatives, listening attentively, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking help when needed are among the coveted skills in this regard. These soft skills are highly recommended in order be a good team player as well as a leader.
Sound judgement and responsible decision making are among the key traits of a successful personality. Taking appropriate decisions at the right time and passing judgements after taking into consideration all aspects of a situation is highly important.
It involves learning how to make constructive choices about personal behaviour and social interactions across diverse settings.
Every sound decision calls for the accurate evaluation of various options and considering consequences of each option. It requires consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, accurate behavioural norms, the risks involved, wellbeing of self and others involved.
Though, the soft skills define us as human beings and are crucial in our overall success in life, they are considered highly important in professional success as well. According to most research data, soft skills are more important than the technical skills we spend so many years acquiring.
Hence, it is the primary responsibility of the schools to help children learn all the soft skills. Schools should focus a great deal in integrating these vital skills into the core of their curriculum and find ways to inculcate these skills actively.