It’s great to see so many schools proclaiming their values via big colourful posters around the campus on subjects to do with kindness and fairness and honesty and tolerance, and I have no doubt that teachers and principals repeatedly emphasise these values when they address students, but what about actual regular skill development?
What I would love to see is Life Skills taught as a compulsory subject alongside Maths and English. A subject like Life Skills would include practical abilities like cooking but especially subjects like Financial Literacy and Communication Skills. My new book, Quest For Riches, is my contribution to schools in terms of financial literacy, and I’ll speak more about it in an upcoming blog, but right now I want to harp on a bit about Communication Skills.
If we look at the escalating rates of domestic violence, at workplace harassment, at strikes and school shootings and terrorism, it’s clear that many of us need improved communication skills. And yet they’re not taught! Why not?
There are so many brilliant programs out there – what I’d like to see is three or four or more hours a week blocked out for CommSkills training. Those hours could be devoted to a range of different programs – students and staff would soon identify which are the most effective ones.
Here’s how this new subject would unfold in my school:
Term 1) ‘Let’s Bully On Purpose In Schools’
- Students learn about universal laws and the fact that bullying will never be eradicated because it serves evolution – and why, and how;
- students gather in groups of three to act out short scripted scenarios – interactions between a bully and ‘bullied’ plus an observer until each student has played each role;
- students engage in discussion about the scenarios and the three roles;
- as the term progresses, students continue to act out these roles, thus learning to recognise the patterns of abuse (the dovetailing traits of the bully and bullied);
- students begin to receive scripts in which the same scenarios are presented but where the responses are more effective, thus learning to listen, establish boundaries, assert oneself and more;
- students participate in classes promoting resilience, self-worth and other relevant skills;
- students write their own scenarios, thus taking responsibility for and practising better communication.
Term 2) Let’s Respect Ourselves and Others and Maximise Our Potential
- Students engage in various other communication skills trainings that enable them to blitz their skill development in this area. (After all, many of them are so busy texting and snap-chatting that they’ve never learnt how to have proper face-to-face conversations. This is surely a high-priority for our future adults and future leaders!)
Etc. The key is repetition but in lively, fresh, relevant formats. Offering these skills as a year-long (no, 12-year-long!) subject creates the opportunity to invite many experts to present their work, thus offering the students the opportunity to evaluate different approaches. Rather than finding the ‘one best’ course, we’d collaborate with multiple providers.
When I was working with HandsOn Training to deliver JobSkills in schools (interview and resumé-writing skills), I was staggered to learn that some of the expensive private schools were cancelling this program because of parents saying that ‘we don’t send our kids to this school to learn how to get a job’. The reality is that looking for a job at 18 or 22 is already too late – now those unskilled young people are competing with unskilled 15 year olds who will work for lower pay.
Come on, folks! Let’s get Common Sense Skills Into Schools!!!
I submitted my books to this list and thought I'd share it with you as there are several others here that will be sure to appeal.
The topics include money, relationships, anger, living intentionally, success and more.
I'd love to know which books you would recommend.
Most of us have a personal story that we re-energise regularly by telling others. Sometimes it’s an empowering story but often we repeat tales of our bad luck or flaws or how things aren’t working out for us. Since ‘what we feed, grows’, it makes sense to be telling stories about our character strengths.
During my novel-writing course one student explained her absence the previous week with the excuse that she had ‘the plague’. Quite acceptable in the middle of winter.
Another student justified her lack of writing progress with a blush and the comment that a past lover had come back into her life – they’d been burning the candle at both ends. The whole class thoroughly enjoyed this excuse – there was lots of laughter and envy.
Did you know that there are 10 Terrains of Consciousness, and if you and your partner inhabit different ones, you might have trouble communicating?
If you’ve been following my story you know that my life changed significantly after writing Wanted: Greener Grass (ironically a book in which I talk about the illusion of ‘greener grass’…).
The honeymoon was wonderful! We flew into Paris and visited Versailles – drove up to Reims to explore the gorgeous villages (and cellars) of the Champagne region – explored some of the chateaux along the River Loire – stayed with a delightful couple deep in the Limoges region of France where we somehow managed a rich conversation with their patchy English and my patchy French – explored the medieval city of Carcassonne… dropped into Marseilles and Aix-en-Provence – met and stayed with wonderful warm and open-hearted family in Cannes – realised a dream in Monte Carlo and on Lake Como – and discovered the Swiss Alps via train on the final leg of our adventure.
I was walking Sammy and Coco, our two Maltese Shitsu dogs, in my new suburb and heading toward my favourite street, a lane that borders paddocks, when they were attacked by two bulldogs that came hurtling out of a driveway, barking aggressively.
I had an unexpected realisation today. A friend has been taken ill and it struck me that a pretty good detox would probably handle much of the issue. This person is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy who has only lately begun to eat a few vegies. He’s dealing with a case of severe inflammation.
A mutual friend asked me what I’d recommend for him, and while I’m no health practitioner, I know from experience the cleansing effects of a plant-based diet - and getting those old offenders out, at least for a period. (I.e. meat, dairy, sugar and soft drinks, alcohol, coffee, refined carbohydrates…)
Some of you will remember me hinting at a new book for youth that I’d be bringing out soon. The hint came several years ago, and the delay has been one of those ‘First Force, Second Force, Third Force’ situations that I describe in The Mastery Club!
However the delays are sorted and I’m delighted to announce that the new book will be available for purchase very soon. I’m actually speaking at two events this month where I’ll have a few pre-launch copies for sale - you are welcome to join us - but the official launch event will be in the second half of the year when I’m back from my honeymoon (this June).
The title is Quest For Riches - 4 teenagers discover the keys to wealth and prosperity.