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Education simulating life

Apr 02,2022 - Last updated at Apr 02,2022

Education is expected to prepare individuals for work and life.

For years, we have been talking about tying education to market needs. This is indeed crucial, for having knowledge for the sake knowledge is no longer a realistic option.

By contrast, we rarely speak about the necessity of tying education to life in general: a successful and happy life. Work is extremely important, to be sure, but it is, after all, part and not all of life.

There are so many other dimensions to life which education should prepare learners for.

Nearly all of us know today that there are necessary skills required in the workplace, which education should enable students to develop: such as self-learning, communication, creativity, entrepreneurship, problem-solving, teamwork, information management, research, emotional intelligence, and thinking outside the box.

But there are, also, so many other important life skills which education should focus on as well, so that individuals succeed at the personal and societal levels, as much as they do in their works or careers.

Skills at this level cannot all be enumerated here, but the most important among them include: dealing with others courteously, wisely, and effectively; negotiating successfully in all life situations; defusing tensions and problems before they happen; good exercise, sports, and health habits; expressing views skilfully; disagreeing with others tactfully and respectfully; sympathising and empathising with others; etc.

The question here is: how can education achieve what is required at these two fronts?

This is the million-dollar question, and education experts must be consulted, of course.

One of the most pertinent answers, however, is for education to simulate what goes on at the two fronts of work and life in all of its methods, tasks, activities, and projects, so that students will effectively acquire all essential work and life skills.

“Simulate “is the magic word here.

Education, as much as it can, should aspire to be much like a plane simulator used for training pilots, as it is expected, even required, to empower graduates to pilot in life much as pilots or sea captains navigate through rough skies or seas.

This means paying special attention to the practical part, and not just the theoretical or academic, which is so prevalent and dominant in our part of the world.

This very objective, of simulating work and life, is what should be kept in mind when experts put the curricula for students together or when they prepare training manuals for teachers, so that in both situations the learning and teaching contents epitomise and enable students to master the work and life skills needed.

And they should do away with anything that is unnecessary or irrelevant to success in work and life.

At the latter level, there is so much in our curricula which students neither understand nor need. And this is why they resort to learning such burdensome information by heart, and soon forget it.

I still distinctly remember, for example, the geography classes which we took in high school which required us to memorise the names and types of the so many agricultural products which Arab countries produced then, and all the confusing weights, charts, numbers and statistics pertaining to them.

The curriculum was filled with so much abstract information which forced us to resort to pure rote learning to learn, and which we never used in our life.  

Clearly, the curricula have changed since then, but they still contain information and data which are utterly useless.

In a nutshell, successful education is that which emulates, simulates, and epitomises real work and life environments.

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