I want to share this information (resource) in order to support some of the work you do as a team builder. It would be a pretty good bet that this will not be new to you. Use it as a useful reminder and reference - a guiding star maybe, if the light works to inspire.
In 1998, a United Nations Inter-Agency Meeting was held at the World Heath Organization's Headquarters. The aim of the meeting "was to generate consensus among United Nations agencies as to the broad definition and objectives of life skills education and strategies for its implementation..."
As promoted by WHO, "Life skills education is aimed at facilitating the development of psychosocial skills that are required to deal with [manage] the demands and challenges of everyday life." (Reference: "Partners in Life Skills Education" document, 1999. NOTE: This document is a seminal work focused on the importance of the specific skills [concepts] listed below. Other 'kinds' of life skills education have been added - see the WHO.Int website for more.
My take on this information, based on searching "Life Skills" at various site, is that these skills are just as relevant, if not more so today, than they were when documented over 20 years ago (and even before 1999). As team builders, we can continue to practice and build these skills and use the WHO reference, "according to the World Health Organization," if some validation is needed to make your point. (I hope, at this point, these needed skills are pretty common knowledge!)
To enhance your 'purposeful programming,' the idea is to connect these skills into the activities you are using in order to practice the skills. Use the language to help your participants 'name' what they are practicing. When we can name something it is often easier to identify what we are doing, what we can be doing and how we can talk about it with others. Then, we can get better at using the skills.
Life Skills [Concepts] we can work on together during team building:
If you want to become REALLY GOOD AT helping groups practicing these Life Skills, get more specific. I interpret the items on the list above as 'concepts' - a "general idea derived from specifics." The specifics being 'skills' - things you can see and hear (in other words, behaviors). This overall point of view is rooted in Behaviorism. I have learned that Behaviorism is 'a' way to educate, not the only way. It is a tool to use in the appropriate circumstance, not the only tool in the tool box.
The Homework: Do some research on each of the concepts listed above to answer the following question: If you were to see a group working through the process of critical thinking (for example), what would they be saying and doing?
Your answers are the skills, or behaviors, related to critical thinking - this is the 'skills list' for that concept. Then, when a group asks you to help them practice critical thinking, you program activities you know will involve critical thinking skills - the skills you can see and hear. Then, the group (and you) can evaluate if and when the skills are being used, how well they are working and what skills need more practice.
What I've shared above is a (super) simple snap shot of, 'Purposeful Program Design' - something I've been teaching and training for the past 10 years. When we can learn to identify the skills sets (behaviors) of the concepts we aim to practice during team building (e.g., Leadership is another concept), we can (laser) focus in on the best activities to practice the skills. And, better meet the needs of our participants/groups.
Dive in. Build your skills lists and facilitate programs that will truly help groups learn and grow. Life skills education is a major focus of what we do. I challenge you to do the good work. And do it to the best of your ability!! (And, I thank you for it.)
Keep me posted.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
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Dr. Chris Cavert is an educator, author and trainer. His passion is helping team builders learn and grow.