For the past 15 years I have been teaching at the University level and developing and facilitating soft skills seminars and workshops for businesses across Canada. During this time I have noticed that students and employees alike are struggling with emotional concerns, communication challenges and a host of mental health issues such as anxiety,  depression, and perfectionism.

We are churning out undergrads who have degrees, but we have failed to arm them with the necessary life skills that can make all the difference between success and failure, mental health and mental illness, and thriving as opposed to merely surviving.

What is even more concerning is the fact that these undergrads become employees who continue to struggle with the very same issues.

When I teach a stress management seminar, or a resiliency workshop to a corporate audience, inevitably someone asks, “Gillian, why are these skills not taught in schools?” It’s a great question.

And although there are some very good reasons life skills are not taught in school (such as time constrains, budget, and who is qualified to teach such skills) – none seem all that  satisfactory.

What concerns me is our focus.

We are so focused on academics and marks that we our failing to teach our students how to manage their lives, regulate their emotions, set goals, balance priorities, strive for success, persevere in the face of failure and develop resiliency.

Ideally such life skills should be taught long before they enter university but they are not. My concern is that we are graduating students that have successfully completed the academic requirements of a bachelor’s degree, (which by the way is a milestone event in and of itself) but we are failing to provide them with a complete education.

The jury on this is out my friends.

The research overwhelmingly supports the relationship between social and emotional learning and academics. When we teach our students how to manage their emotions, quell their anxieties, persevere in the face of failure (yes that dreaded word that starts with “F” – failure!) – we position them for greater success both in and outside the classroom. And more importantly, we position them for greater success in life, love, and work.

To your success!

Dr. Gill