EDITORIAL - Schooling students on social behaviours

Yesterday saw the return of Barbadian students to the classrooms for the second term of the year. During this period the focus for many children turns more towards athletics as the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Athletics Championships (BSSAC) takes centre stage, however there are many other forms of development that need to take place in children at this young age.

For instance, it is imperative that children are taught not only academics in school, but also social behaviours. These skills are necessary for an individual to become a functioning, beneficial member of society, but are sadly lacking in too many people today.

Ideally, most social behaviours are taught by parents during a child’s formative years and reinforced within the family environment. Small gestures like praying before meals, saying thank you and even washing one’s hands are picked up from as early as two years old. However, poor parenting and broken homes result in children having no example of good social skills and leads to adults who are severely stunted in social situations.

The school environment – both primary and secondary – being a place where children spend the majority of their waking hours, is therefore the perfect place for them to learn these social behaviours. Currently there are some parts of the curriculum which address certain areas of social behaviour; for instance Home Economics may deal with the etiquette of dining and Guidance may deal with work-related interactions. In most cases however, the focus of social behaviours come within the scope of extra curricular activities e.g. Toastmasters and Girl Guides. Yet, these are not mandatory and not holistic. There needs to be a compulsory comprehensive class structured to focus on a wider array of areas, from discerning the appropriate dress for an event to knowing when, where and how to speak. Even understanding and controlling body language needs to be addressed.

Though some people may object to this level of manipulation in a child’s development, the fact remains that in many cases there is no alternative means of instruction. And those who may argue against ‘wasting’ resources on an area which is not crucial to academic success should consider that even with academic accolades under one’s belt, entry into the workforce and any subsequent success is dependent on having these social skills and being able to know how to operate and work with others in various social settings.

Even in the sports world, where athletes are called upon to excel on the track or field, there will be times when they would also be called upon to socialise at a ceremony or a press conference for instance. In this way, being part of a national team, their behaviour reflects not only on themselves and their team-mates, it would also be a reflection on their country.

A final argument for an additional focus on social behaviour in schools is the belief that it would curtail a lot of the anti-social behaviour that spurs violence and crime within the youth presently. Though there is no proof of a direct correlation between the two, there can be no doubt that feeling more confident in your social abilities and accepted amongst society would reduce the risk of one going against the norm and pursuing a life of crime.

It becomes obvious then that there is a need for more instruction on social behaviours in children. This would have a definite positive impact on their entire lives.

Barbados Advocate

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