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From time immemorial, an educational institute has been accepted as the most important and indispensable formal means of human development. In todays world, many parents are hard put to give requisite care to the development of their children due to their economic conditions, professional compulsions, social commitments and technical complexity of the education. This phenomenon has made the developmental role of an educational institute far more predominant than it ever was. A person joins or sends his children to an educational institute with the sole aim of learning and development. However, fulfilment of his aim depends upon the ability of an institute to teach and the orientation of its students to learn.
The ability of an educational institute to play its developmental role effectively depends upon a number of factors. The most prominent of these factors are:
(a) Institutional objectives
(b) Institutional infrastructure
(c) Institutional environment
(d) Curriculum of the institute
The ability of the school to motivate its students to participate in life skills -developmental activities depends on the learning environment and also on type of the curriculum of the institute. Inter-active teaching and learning, sports activities, team games, group discussions, debates and project works provide opportunities to the students to take active part in group activities. They enable the students to practise the life skills in school environment. They help in the development of positive self-image, coping with emotions and stress, time management, interpersonal communication, decision making, self-management etc. amongst the students. An educational institute should, therefore, organize the aforesaid activities periodically and encourage its students to participate in all of them.
According to Dr Bharath, imparting life skills should be recognized as an adolescent educational programme in every school. At least six teachers in every school should be trained for three years in generic life skills to address developmental mental illness. All three departments - health, human resources department and youth affairs and sports - should work together.
A teacher is the most important tool in an educational institute for the development of student's personality. He must be of the highest possible quality and dedicated to the development of students. Parents send their children to schools and colleges for their development with the faith that their teachers will groom them better than what they as parents can do. This faith places a very heavy responsibility on the shoulders of teachers. To discharge this responsibility effectively, a teacher has to act as a mentor and mould his students. A teacher can perform such a role only if he acts as the soul of the institution, imparts high-quality education and develops his students with dedication.
According to Carl Rogers, a humanistic theorist, a teacher needs to become more of a facilitator in the classroom allowing children to learn based on experiences. This puts the responsibility to learn into the hands of the students thus enhancing this particular social skill. Under Roger's theory "Self-initiated learning is the most lasting and pervasive."
The role of a teacher in life skills training cannot be flouted. The teacher's personality, qualities and method of teaching have a profound impact and a long-lasting influence on the life of a student. A teacher can act as a role model and help in shaping future global citizens of the world. They may not quite realise this in the hustle-bustle of their hurried and stressed lives. The main objective of life skill education is to enable students develop a concept of oneself as a worthy and contributing member of the society. Besides acquiring knowledge, students should have social skills, emotional balance, time management skills, financial literacy, health consciousness, and problem-solving skills among others. In order to ensure a person's holistic development, character building and value-based teaching is another essential item. Values of respect to others and kindness, tolerance with different cultures and cuisines, being truthful and courageous under any circumstance needs to inculcated. The sooner these skills are taught, the easier it is for the child to assimilate them.
2.5.5 Peer Influence
Teenagers have various peer relationships, and they interact with many peer groups. Some kids give in to peer pressure because they want to be liked, to fit in, or because they worry that other kids may make fun of them if they don't go along with the group. Others may go along because they are curious to try something new that others are doing. The idea that "everyone's doing it" may influence some kids to leave their better judgment, or their common sense, behind. While parents can't protect their children from experiencing peer pressure, there are steps they can take to minimize its effects. At its best, on the one hand peer pressure can mobilize teen's energy, motivate for success, and encourage teen to conform to healthy behaviour. Peers can and do act as positive role models. Peers can and do demonstrate appropriate social behaviours. Peers often listen to, accept, and understand the frustrations, challenges, and concerns associated with being a teenager. On the other hand, the need for acceptance, approval, and belonging is vital during the teen years. Teens who feel isolated or rejected by their peers- or in their family - are more likely to engage in risky behaviours in order to fit in with a group. In such situations, a powerful negative peer pressure can impair good judgment and fuel risk-taking behaviour, drawing a teen away from the family and positive influences and luring into dangerous activities. The ability to develop healthy friendships and peer relationships depends on a teen's self-identity, self-esteem, and self-reliance.
2.5.6 Mass media and Technology
Among the environmental influences that touch adolescents' development, perhaps the most difficult to study is the wide, fast-evolving array of media and technologies that plays a paramount role in today's society. Media, also known as the fourth estate, that has affected very gravely .Mass media, modes of electronic communication and entertainment-are portable, ubiquitous, and integrated into virtually all aspects of adolescents' lives. Mass media, especially television, movies, advertising, radio, magazines, newspaper, pamphlets, internet and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter etc. plays a paramount role in today's society. Mass media are tools for the transfer of information, views, concepts, and ideas to both general and specific audiences. Amongst said audiences, "Adolescents are vigorous users of the information broadcasted in media" (Werner-Wilson, Morrissey & Fitzharris, 2004). Because this time period of adolescent is so crucial to the development of a child's body and brain, any negative influences can have lifelong health effects. Mass media provide formal and informal messages about violence, use of alcohol and tobacco as well as portrayals sexuality, there is serious concern about the impact violent portrayals have on their behaviour which leads to risk factors for the adolescent variability. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable because they are new and inexperienced and are the prime targets of many advertisements and information. Impact of mass media on adolescents is particularly vulnerable because this is the age when they are more easily influenced by negative aspect of everything. They are now not mature and many times lead a life of fantasy. Another area of concern is the amount of stress indirectly caused by the mass media (Davies, 1993). Because early adolescence is a stressful period in life (Hamburg, 1974; Elkind, 1986), younger media consumers are more susceptible to additional stress created by the media. This is why young adolescents cannot accept the good things presented by mass media tools, rather attracted by illusionary and faulty commercial advertisings, mainly health related aspects. They are in the process of learning their values and roles and developing their self-concepts. Most teenagers are sensitive to peer pressure and find it difficult to resist or even question the dominant cultural messages perpetuated and reinforced by the media. It has also affected their thinking patterns and their opinions towards various topic and subjects as well as opened new avenues and a whole plethora of subjects that were previously not even given a mention.
On the other hand the most important things that media does for the youth is keeps them informed and engaged as well as encourages them to move in the right direction, Media literacy allows youth to reflect on important life choices and make decisions about their health behaviours. It allows young people to control the influences of media messages, instead of being controlled by them. Media literacy helps children and adolescents gain skills to intelligently navigate the media and filter the hundreds of messages they receive every day.