With revision of the syllabus to suit the needs of a changing society, personality development and life skills modules are gaining importance.

The concern of any parent today is how to make their children realise their dreams in life. The race for a good education starts the day the child turns two years and does not end till the child enters the college. With the Indian economy becoming global year after year, the competition to secure a seat in the best schools has become even more severe. With parents attaching more and more importance to quality education and with the middle class boom, investment on a school project is becoming a popular decision. This has resulted in proliferation of schools.

The governments, both the Central as well as the State, have started focusing on revising the syllabus to suit the changes that are expected in the society over the next decade.

The school syllabus is becoming more activity oriented and interactive. There is a whole lot of education related industries coming up very fast offering technology and tools to make the classrooms even more interactive. What used to be merely chalk and talk classrooms are becoming an interesting environment for students to learn with fun and frolic.

However, one very critical area is still not receiving the attention it deserves. This is the Personality Development for children. With more and more competition to medical and engineering colleges, the focus in higher classes is shifting to mark-scoring and not developing the personality. One important thing the parents and teachers should not forget is the need for an all round development of personality.

In fact, after the school final, no one is going ask for the mark sheet. After the college education, success depends on the quality of personality and not the degree or certificate.

Schools and teachers should give priority to develop the personality of children which is even more important. Realising this, the Central Board of Secondary Education has brought about sweeping changes in the syllabus and the evaluation of children in their schools.

Under the revised syllabus, personality development and life skills are given equal importance and a student is evaluated 360 degrees.

Labs

For a very long time, schools have been investing on labs where children get a feel of understanding the application aspects of science. However, these labs are restricted to biology, chemistry and physics.

Only lately, language labs and math labs are becoming popular. Schools should now add one more lab: personality development lab.

This will help the students and teachers to have first hand information of what makes a good personality. The dictionary meaning of the word ‘personality' is the quality that forms a person's character, the qualities that makes someone interesting or popular.

The meaning of the word ‘development' is the action of developing.

Together, the phrase Personality Development may mean the various actions initiated for the development of an organised pattern of behaviour, attitude, character, traits, habits, etiquettes and manners that will make a person unique and distinctive.

While the science labs impart knowledge on the various principles of science, the Personality Development Lab will focus on how to develop some of the traits mentioned above. It should focus on some of the life skills such as:

1. Communication and Public Speaking

2. Emotional Intelligence

3. Interpersonal Relationship

4. Norms for Social Behaviour such as manners and etiquette

5. Fitness of the mind and body through yoga and meditation

6. Problem Solving and Thinking Skills

7. Assertiveness

8. Leadership and team working

9. Self empowerment and time management

And the list can cover much more depending on the location of the schools. The lab can also take up issues relating to teenage and adolescent problems. If you think for a while, you will understand how important and critical these issues are for the children to lead a quality life. In fact, the teachers' training should cover these issues also as part of the syllabus just like other subjects so that the teachers are equipped to handle these subjects in the Personality Development Lab.

The students should be taught what makes a good leader and the various theories of leadership.

The students should be introduced to motivation theories such as the Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and the Frederick Herzberg's motivation and hygiene factors.

Team games

There are various management games to teach how to build an effective team and these games should be played in the Personality Development Lab of the schools. Similarly other life skills of the children should be honed in the Personality Development Labs.

In fact it will be a good idea if the Human Resources Development Department of the organisations where the school is situated gets actively involved in the Personality Development Labs.

This could be a part of the Corporate Social Responsibility portfolio. In return for this contribution, the organisation will get well informed and trained students as their future employees.

Needless to say that the teachers will also get trained in these critical life skills.

We have to remember that the schools are not merely centres to impart education, but also the main contributor of good citizens for the future society where these skills matter much more than the subject knowledge and classroom excellence.

The author is an educationist and NLP Consultant trained in United States and can be contacted on timeline@vsnl.com.

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