Current education in many countries are far from addressing important needs of students. For example, many schools teach students how to conform with others and how to obey authority, but skip emphasising the importance of autonomous decision-making and independent behaviours. This is not to suggest that students should be disrespectful of certain social norms, but rather to underline students’ need to learn to find a balance between conformity and being independent. Autonomy is one of the psychological needs that must be satisfied given that it’s crucial for individual wellbeing.

Take another example. Students are expected to get high scores on some standardized tests which measure analytical intelligence. But what about emotional intelligence? What an important set of skills…One of the purposes of schools should be helping students increase their emotional intelligence; that is, learning how to gain awareness about their own and others’ emotions, how to express their emotions, and how to effectively regulate their emotions. Lack of emotional intelligence may lead to poor interpersonal relationships, personal wellbeing, and decision-making.

Let’s teach students what wellness and wellbeing are, and why they are important. Let’s teach them how to have good eating, sleeping, and exercise habits; how to prevent certain physical and mental health problems. Let’s teach them moral behaviours and the importance of virtues; how to value wisdom, how to love and get pleasure from learning. We should teach them how to become curious about the world and things happening around us; how to appreciate beauty; how to be kind to others and how to be socially responsible; how to be more confident and courageous in life; how to care more about the environment. Why not teach them how to better relate to others, maintain healthy relationships, and respect diversity?

Schools may have these listed as their purposes in their mission statements. But to what extent they actually work towards fulfilling these purposes is open to question. I think we all should be thinking more and more about how to make this happen.

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