The basic definition of education is slowly getting distorted with new thought patterns, new skills, new life-styles emerging. The quantum and quality of information being accessed, managed and processed by the learner is comprehended to be education, thereby shifting the paradigms of the essentials of knowledge, experiences, values that are long lasting, and that would help the learner to ‘weather all seasons of life.’ There is a visible shift from approaches that would promote a ‘community life’ based on social consciousness to ‘self-gratification strategies’ that trends with one-upmanship and personal branding. In many cases, the information so assimilated do not help the learners to manage challenges, leave alone crises. They are being trained to look at the gloom and get ready to face the worst, rather than being shown the sight of the new dawn and the beautiful rainbow that adorns on the other side of the sky. While no one would deny the need for competencies and skills which are both current and futuristic, the ability to handle any challenge with comfort, courage and conviction articulated through the latent wisdom gained over the experiences of the past, have to be put in place to shape the learner to be what he should be. If the number of cases on the curve with psychological challenges, depressions and suicides, be any indicators, it would suggest that we need to focus more on some fundamentals alongside information-studded knowledge broking. It is in this context that from the formative stage the following skills which are basic, universal and futuristic need to form the undercurrent of all learning challenges.
1. Self-Management skills
In a world that in increasingly competitive, consumerist and connected, there is a strong evidence of ‘targeted’ goal-setting strategies modelled on some selective popular and charismatic brands. Such techniques put a lot of thrust on ‘becoming’ over the ‘Being’. Conflicts arising out of these external forces on human emotions, skills, performances, achievements create stories of ‘success’ and ‘failure’. These yardsticks of measurement alien to the personal needs, aptitudes and competencies of the individuals lead to stress, self-contempt, self-pity among the people. This would indeed mean that our young learners need to be trained on the self-management skills so that they emerge as confident, competent and contributive citizens who focus on their own creative faculties and become entrepreneurs of the self. Further, with the shelf-life of knowledge becoming increasingly shorter, the ability to unlearn, re-learn and re-engineer or refabricate one’s life from time to time becomes essential. “Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society “says Benjamin Franklin. Goes along with the self-management skills is the self-help skills so that they learn to stay independent and become marshals of their own battles.
2. Relationship Management Skills
With the emergence of ‘global village’ and the role of information technology on communication between people, the social architecture and its fabric are fast changing. Relationships are becoming more impersonal, articulated, purpose-driven, contextual and short-lived. Even during such brief timelines, the emotional content of the relationships is giving way to more articulated forms which are driven by certain goals, needs, expectations and gratifications. The emerging ‘emotional consumerism’ trends of social constructs impair the quality of relationships. On the professional front, newer models of communication, empathy, collaboration, cooperation and teamwork are emerging. All these require empowerment of the learners with positive skills of relationship management. Further, relationship management with senior citizens in the family, parent-child relationship, adolescence management, neighbourhood management and social environment management skills are taking newer dimensions seeking frequent re-validation of one’s social and emotional skills. It would be appropriate for schools to focus on building an empowered community, society and individual with healthy relationship management skills, immaterial of the knowledge profile or the disciplines of engagement in learning.
3. Resource Management Skills
Understanding of resources – ecological, environmental, natural, physical, financial and of knowledge, is essential to a meaningful and productive life. In a large number of cases, opportunities for growth and development are lost due to poor knowledge of the availability of resources, inadequacy of resources, lack of skills of resource management, abuse and misuse of resources, under utilization of resources and wastage of resources. Resource management is basically an attitude and a skill, that needs to be developed through appropriate awareness and exposure to functional dynamics of systems. In the current scenario, one could really explain a huge loss of resources in terms of time, space, food, forests, climate and energy in the younger generation. It is important to prepare Gen-z to the skills of optimization of resources for their own good and of their future. Immaterial of the discipline of knowledge a learner pursues, resource management skills in their respective domain is essential for the global survival.
4. Competency Management Skills
Emergence of new knowledge systems and their affiliate competencies, associated skills are making all knowledge workers increasingly irrelevant with passage of time. With shelf-life of knowledge and skills becoming shorter, continuous learning and upgrading of competencies and skills has become a necessity. Anyone who either dwells and celebrates only with past knowledge or suffers from the ‘Learner Helplessness’ thereby missing the bus for the journey towards the future is likely to be impacted with mental health issues because of a sense of self-defeatism. Learners need to taught with traits to be ‘continuous and systematic learners’ and ‘life-long learners’ so that they stay current with competencies which have both intrinsic and extrinsic values. “Self-learning” is the call of the future which is further ably supported by technological infrastructure and input strategies.
5. Wealth Management skills
The concept of wealth is not alien to either spirituality or to a vibrant living. The term ‘wealth’ encompasses a variety of components -health, knowledge, skills, relationships, sense of enterprise, sensitivity to productivity, effective management of time, happy family life and of course, assimilations, management and meaningful use of money. With distorted life styles induced by polarized aspirations in life, there is evidence of a huge loss of wealth on the part of individuals, which in turn magnifies when scaled to a social fabric. Basically, wealth generation, management and investment are an attitude to life that results in happiness.
Learners need to be introduced to the fundamentals of ‘wealth’ rather than ‘money’; they need to be helped to look at the eco-system, the bio-sphere and the natural resources as a part of their personal wealth so that they are effective and productive users of them. Further, it is important to train them to appreciate ‘national resources’ as personal wealth contributed to social system, so that destruction of such properties through aggression, violence and arson are avoided. Creating an awareness about wealth generation and management is a critical exercise for a nation’s growth.