Your Name and Title: Hassan Sattar (Managing Director)
School or Organization Name: Silver Oaks School
Co-Presenter Name(s): Sadaf Taimur
Area of the World from Which You Will Present: Pakistan
Language in Which You Will Present: English
Target Audience(s): Educationalists, Teachers, Curriculum Designers, Social Scientists
Short Session Description (one line):
CHANGING THE EARLY EDUCATION CURRICULUM TO INCLUDE MANDATORY LIFE SKILLS EDUCATION AS ONE PREVENTIVE INTERVENTION AGAINST AVOIDABLE MENTAL DISORDERS CAUSED BY INABILITY TO MANAGE STRESS AND FRUSTRATION
Full Session Description (as long as you would like):
Within the fast changing world of globalization and change, in Pakistan, there is a rapidly developing trend of anxiety and depressive disorders. Mirza & Jenkins in 2004, suggested that in urban Pakistan, the level of prevalence of such disorders is at 34% and is linked to relationship problems, financial difficulties and low educational level.
Given this alarming level of anxiety and depressive disorders and the evidence that intervention is mandatory for prevention, we have set about analyzing the role that educational institutions can play in developing tools, amongst young children, that will facilitate them in avoiding falling prey to suffocation and stagnation associated with instability and frustration. These tools, we have assumed, are skills associated with thinking and self-esteem, which are jointly called life skills. These skills, we believe, are indispensible for students to cope with diverse situations that pose ever changing challenges causing anxiety and depressive disorders.
Studies show that the positive family environments offer opportunities for personal autonomy and encourage nurturance of thinking skills, which are associated with the positive outcomes such as self-esteem, satisfaction with school and student teacher relations, self- reliance, positive school adjustment and advanced moral reasoning. Parental styles also affect self-esteem and overall personality of children. However, in most of the third world / developing countries, the parenting style is coercive, authoritarian and not aligned to the children needs for autonym and input. This kind of parental style is associated with self-consciousness and lowered self esteem. Stakeholders of education are recognizing that developing life skills in children, from an early age, is now a needed invention - developing self-esteem and thinking skills should be an affirmed objective of education as it enables the students to think for themselves.
The natural next question, then, is when and how to work on shaping these life skills. This question has been answered by many social and natural scientists, where they suggested that early childhood (age 6-10) is the most crucial period of one’s life. Early childhood period is most significant because it provides a strong foundation for rest of the life. Intervention during early childhood can change the life (quality) trajectory of an individual. Through these years, children forge a personal identity, a self concept and an orientation toward achievement that will play a significant role in shaping their relative success in life. Children, especially in their early childhood period, have an ability to readily acquire knowledge and skills. In this process, education (and by extension, educational institutions) play a key role.
No substantial work has been done in Pakistan to develop thinking skills and self-esteem of the children. Higgins et al., in 2005, reported that only one such study has been conducted in Pakistan. Our study is an attempt to investigate the impact of structured, taught and activity based curriculum for life skills with focus on self-esteem and thinking skills. It is proposed that introducing a structured and well-researched program in the early school years, to develop self-esteem and thinking skills will play a significant role in preparing children for inclusive, reflective and productive citizenship.( We will share some activities, being practiced by the students during the presentation).
The proposal may be used to form the basis of prescriptive policy and law making for changing the early education curriculum to include mandatory life skills education as one preventive intervention against avoidable mental disorders caused by inability to manage stress and frustration.