Life Skills in the Pastoral Programme
What does the future hold for us all? People who asked this question in the early 1900s certainly did not do too well with their predictions. Answers such as moving sidewalks, living in floating airships and tomatoes becoming square fell very wide of the mark. When we are asked to give our predictions of what the future holds for our children/students we are also likely to be as incorrect as the people of the early 1900s. What we can make accurate predictions about though are the life skills that our students need to be equipped with for success in this unknown future.
Type ‘what are life skills’ into a search engine and you will be met with an array of numbers saying how many life skills there are, 5, 8, 10? 48 was the largest number I found, 3 the smallest. For the sake of this blog I will focus on 2 life skills we teach in our pastoral programme at Chatsworth International School, why they are important and how we teach them.
I once had a friend who was a truly brilliant musician, give him any instrument and he could play it, ask him to write a song on the spot and he would produce a great composition, put him on a stage and he had a magnetism that was undeniable, set him a deadline ans......he would miss it. We both got the chance to audition at the same university where competition for places was fierce, people asked if I was worried about auditioning against him, I was not as I knew he wouldn't make the audition. To get to the audition involved setting an alarm for 5am to get on a train that you had to pre book a ticket for whilst bringing along the right equipment for the audition. My friend's lack of organisation skills meant that achieving all three of these things was unlikely, he actually fell at the first hurdle by not setting his alarm and missing the train he didn’t have a ticket for.
As this story shows, all the talent in the world will not save you from poor organisation skills and one of the first organisation skills we teach our students at Chatsworth is how to structure their day. Step one of this is to know where you need to be then be there on time with the right equipment. When our new Year 7 cohort moves up to secondary school we walk them round the school showing them where their classrooms are, we go through the timings of the school day so they understand when things happen and then we talk them through what they need for each lesson. From this basic foundation we build getting students to look at how to organise their workload by using their planners, how to plan in advance by looking at and understanding a calendar and how to organise and run events as part of the school’s Service programme. For our students who go into the Square Tomato industry or any other industry the organisation skills we work on with them at Chatsworth will prove vital.
Eric Cantona was one of the finest footballers to ever grace the Premier League and wore the famous number 7 shirt for Manchester United, part genius, part madman, part footballer, part artist. Anyone of a certain age who saw him play in his prime will tell you just how good he was. However one of the most interesting parts of Cantona’s story isn’t his success at Manchester United but the failures that littered his career before and during his time at United.
In the 10 years before his move to Manchester, Cantona played for 7 different clubs, all of his spells at these clubs involved controversy, disaster and him leaving under a dark cloud. When he joined Manchester United he had initial success then another disaster, his infamous Kung Fu kick on a spectator.
After the Kung Fu kick the common assumption was his United career, if not his football career, was over. No one could see a way back for him and nothing could save him.
Only that wasn’t the case, he did come back for United, Captaining the side and helping them to win two back to back titles. So how was his fall into the abyss halted, how was his career not just saved but resurrected to new heights?
The answer is simple, interpersonal skills: his manager Alex Ferguson stuck by Cantona throughout the Kung Fu kick controversy and subsequent six month ban from football. He knew just what Cantona needed for support alongside how far he could admonish the player so he would reflect and change his ways rather than become resentful and bitter.
As the Cantona story shows, great interpersonal skills are a vital skill for success in life. The ability to bring the best out of others and help them when they are in need will always be valued and highly sought after. According to Victoria University Research Fellows Esther Doecke and Quentin Maire, the development of 21st century skills in schools is most likely to be nurtured by deliberate approaches to teaching and learning, where students are given rich and varied opportunities and contexts within which to improve them. Through our pastoral programme at Chatsworth International School we strive to offer students multiple opportunities to work on their interpersonal skills. Examples of this included giving students structured free time where they are encouraged to disconnect from technology and spend time making connections with their peers. We also run team building challenges where students learn to work together and compromise alongside developing students communication skills through discussion and debate.
All students at Chatsworth International School will be given the opportunity to develop the two life skills focused on here alongside many other life skills such as decision making, creative thinking and problem solving. By helping our students develop these skills we are helping to future proof them and prepare them for success later in life.
Challies, J. (2021, April 27). Manchester United Great Cantona shares regret from infamous Kung-Fu Kick. Manchester Evening News. Retrieved May 20, 2022, from https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/manchester-united-eric-cantona-kick-20466384
ACER (2019, June 4). Developing and assessing interpersonal skills. Retrieved 27 May 2022, fromhttps://www.acer.org/au/discover/article/developing-and-assessing-interpersonal-skills.