What is the relevance of the content for living in a given time and space?
What is the evidence that life skills are being developed?
What is the space given in the curriculum for each of the life skills?
What are the indicators in the textbooks for transaction of life skills?
Do exercises address the life skills concept?
How do teachers address life skills? Are projects assigned to develop life skills?
For eg, if group discussion is assigned, life skill of communication is incorporated in the textbook
if biofeedback is assigned, life skill of empathy comes into play
if ecological topics are assigned, life skill of self-awareness is brought to the fore in textbooks.
Whether life skills are developed in the textbook in terms of sustainable development?
What are the envisaged life skills in the curriculum document and NCF in XI standard biology? What life skills does it aim at?
What are the life skills already incorporated in the XI standard biology texts/ curriculum?
What are the minimum levels of learning attained in life skills of XI standard Biology texts?
What are the additional skills that need to be included in the curriculum?
How will you update the present curriculum in the light of observations made in the present studies?
Can we make the curriculum environment, life and learner centered? i.e. life-skill oriented?
What are the life skills expected from a student who passes XI standard?
Does each unit of the curriculum meet the development in life of a certain set of life skills at least?
What percentage of incorporated life skills are learned?
Why are many of the life skills not learnt? Is it because of lack content, lack of infrastructure in lab, lack of exploratory activities, lacks of hands-on experiences, etc.?
How does the existing curriculum compare with the level of life skills expected from XI standard students?
Have minimum levels of life skills been prescribed at XI standard stage in the National Curriculum Framework?
If there is a unit on Bacteria, the student learns to culture bacteria through indigenous methods using life skills of problem-solving and creative thinking.
The student is able to stop the growth of Bacteria in culture in indigenous ways. Also he/she is able to control the spread of bacteria using local, economically and medically important plants. If the student is able to do this, he/she achieves life skills of problem-solving and creative thinking. If he/she doesn't achieve it, the life-skill is not learnt.
If there are 20 important life skills to be learnt at the +2 stage and these have been achieved as evidenced by related activities performed in class/lab, then minimum levels of skills are achieved.
For eg. if the question is “How will you culture Bacteria?”
The student is able to solve it constructively in a series of steps as follows:
Bacteria are microscopic organisms.
Bacteria are prokaryotic and do not have an organized nucleus.
Bacteria contain plasmids, ribosomes and RNA in cytoplasm.
Bacteria possess a plasma membrane and wall.
Bacteria reproduce by fission.
E. coli are beneficial bacteria found in human intestine.
Bacteria show sexuality and recombination involving transfer of genetic material from one bacterial cell to another.
There are three methods of transformation of genetic material viz, transformation, transduction and conjugation.
Most of the important work on bacterial genetics has been done on E.coli.
Bacteria can be drawn in petri-dishes or in culture tubes on a simple culture medium.
The culture medium consists of Glucose, ammonium salts and additional substances in traces.
Bacteria can manufacture vitamins and amino acids from these simple substances.
This is a minimal medium and strains of bacteria which grow on these simple medium after incubation(1-2 day period) are called phototrophs.
Bacteria can be drawn either in liquid medium or on the surface of medium which is made solid by means of agar.
Samples used :
Six schools/ colleges were selected from Mysore (Urban) for this study based on their proximity to the Institute, the syllabi and PUC I/II or XI/XII standard level teaching. The schools/colleges were
Jagadguru Shivrathreeshwara Samsthe College, Saraswathipuram – PUC I
Jagadguru Shivrathreeshwara Samsthe College, Saraswathipuram – PUC II
Sadvidya College – PUC I, II levels
Kendriya Vidyalaya – XI and XII standards
Sharada Vilas – PUC I, II levels
Demonstration Multipurpose School, RIEM – XI and XII standards
Care was taken to assure that the both CBSE as well as state schools were included among the selected schools: that the schools taught XI and XII standard syllabi and the colleges had Pre- University Level Teaching (viz. PUC I and PUC II levels syllabi).
Sample size varied from 20-35 students per class.
Evaluation Tool for Analyzing the syllabi or Textbooks
Checklist Tool for preparing an Achievement Test- I puc (State) (Sarada Vias and JSS PUC I) (Rao, S.M., 2006).
Checklist Tool for preparing an Achievement Test (Life skills-State II PUC) (Rao, S.M., 2006).
Checklist Tool for preparing an Achievement Test (NCERT, 2006)
Preliminary Test Questionnaire for Validation. (I PUC)
Preliminary Test Questionnaire for Validation. (II PUC)
Preliminary Test Questionnaire for Validation.(NCERT)
The research method used here was survey method.
Statistical Techniques used:
Mean, Standard Deviation, percentage analysis, t-test, Anova
There is lack of inclusion of coping skills and inter-personal relationship skills in the text which are two of the important WHO skills (1994). There is a need to incorporate these in the form of chapters on Reproductive Biology (included in the XII standard textbooks); Sexuality and on HIV /AIDS and other epidemics and diseases affecting the living relationships among human beings and the coping capacities of affected individual.
An entire unit could be devoted at this stage to the various applied aspects of the various chapters for eg, for the chapter on Musculo- Skeletal system the applied aspects would pertain to diseases of the bones like rickets, osteoporosis, arthritis, fractures etc.
As stated by Prof. Krishna Kumar in his book on “What is worth teaching?”- A healthy man will of course be happy but an educated man need not necessarily be happy. This is because good health is basic to education and education to the quality of life. Inclusion of chapters on coping and interpersonal relationship skills are important through applied aspects of day-to-day life replete with activities/ modules to gain the respective skills.
Solving, Thinking and Understanding skills flood the academic pursuits in NCERT Bio Syllabus-2005
Diversity in the living world is an apt unit for expanding on inter-relationships in the plant world and their inter-dependence on other plants and animals. This also highlight homeostasis and checks and balances in the Eco-system. Therefore, a chapter on Natural Resources and Ecosystem would be welcome here to stress the development of coping and relationship skills in the living world.
Diseases of the digestive, excretory and circulatory system could be highlighted in Unit V to emphasize development of coping skills.
To sustain relationships with social and natural world is an important point mentioned on p.26 of National Curriculum Framework – 2005 – necessitating the inclusion of chapters on the Ecosystem, Food chains, Food webs, Food pyramids, Natural Resources and their utilization and Conservation. Man forms a part of the largest ecosystem viz. Biosphere.
Skills of yoga also are mentioned on p.26 under health and physical education and Yoga facilitates development of coping skills. Yoga is actually pranic healing involving inhalation and exhalation of breath and fine tuning the body using respiratory ad muscular movements. A chapter on Yoga as applied aspect of respiratory and musculo- skeletal systems would be welcoming in the Biology Texts.
Page 48 of the NCF mentions “to inculcate in the learner concern for life and preservation of the environment’. These can be developed only through chapters on conservation of animal and plant life. This develops empathy ie, objectivity, sensitivity, social inclination, social responsibility and social obligation. A chapter on first aid will not be amiss here.
Psychology is mentioned as a paper in NCF- Biology Vol. II-A chapter on the basics of Psychology would make the textbooks an instrument for bringing equity(p.49 of NCF,2005) and promote life skills of empathy and sensitivity among students. Along with relevant modules for development of coping skills, psychology would help students to adjust to personal, social and emotional crisis(p.70, NCF, 2005). it may please be noted at this stage that personal, social and health education (PSHE) is a part of the secondary curriculum in UK and other countries (Kiwan,2008).
It may not be gainsaid that the content knowledge here projects the development of thinking and solving skills and some understanding skills. All the life skills have not been brought in into the CBSE syllabus. CBSE has brought out a series of books on Life Skills Education from VI, VII to VIII standard along with CCE. It would be welcome if life skills development is integrated in the form of exercises/modules in the various chapters/units of the syllabus here.
The I PUC and II PUC syllabi and texts shows a combination of various life skills. An analysis and quick browse through the tools evinces Thinking, Solving and Understanding skills. Only coping and relationship skills are conspicuous by their absence despite a thorough analysis and sieving of the textbooks. Topics that could be included in the textbooks syllabi both at the state/CBSE/NCERT level for coping and inter-personal relationship skills could be health topics pertaining to the individual chapters already included and topics on Environmental Science which bring out the relationships between man and man, and man and nature. Health topics could mention how to cope with diseases of epidemic proportions like AIDS, and also cancer and other occupational diseases.
A reviewer of the analysis of textbooks and syllabi is an eye-opener to the fact that many of the WHO life-skills form an integral part of the Science and Biology curricula. One cannot be performing scientific activities without a combination of solving and thinking skills in particular. These skills are woven into the very fabric and concept of what is science. We teach the content of Science and Biology in classes without paying sufficient attention to the development of thinking and and solving skills in students. At the end of a period of study, students are assessed for memorization for assimilation of the content but not for the life skills involved therein. It is imminent that assessment of life skills forms a part of Science and Biology curricula.
1. JSS and Sharada Vilas
Wide individual variation seen in attainment of percent of individual and total life skills.
Significant differences seen between the two schools in the attainment of critical thinking, decision making, effective communication and total percent life skills.
Girls attain more life skills than boys and this was significant in critical thinking and decision making and effective communication life skills.
The pattern of attainment of MLL in seven individual/paired life skills and total life skills between the two schools was similar.
2. JSS2 and Sadvidya
Wide individual variation seen in attainment of percent of life skills.
Significant differences were seen between the two schools in attainment of critical thinking; creative thinking and problem-solving; critical thinking and effective communication and total percent life-skills.
Girls attain lesser than boys in total life skills and this was significant in case of decision-making and effective communication skills.
No significant differences seen between the two schools in attainment of MLL in Life Skills.
3. DMS and KV:
Less individual variation seen in the scores of life skills except in case of problem solving and creative thinking where there is wide individual variation in attainment. However there is wide individual variation in percent life skills attainment.
KV had a significantly higher attainment of total life skills as against DMS. Variations in the attainment of life skills is significant in decision making and highly significant in creative thinking, critical thinking, critical thinking and decision making, problem-solving and critical thinking and problem-solving and decision making.
Girls attained more than boys in total life skills and this was significant. Differences in percent attainment of creative thinking; critical thinking; critical thinking and decision making; and problem-solving and decision making were significant.
Significant differences are seen in the attainment of MLL in life-skills of creative thinking and problem-solving and decision making.
4. All six schools of Mysore
Less individual variation seen n the attainment of life-skills.
Maximum mean attainment of life-skills was very low in the six schools studied. Differences in mean attainment were significant in decision making, problem-solving, effective communication, self-awareness and coping with stress.
Girls attaining more than boys in 8 out of 10 WHO life skills was however statistically not significant.
Attainment of MLL in life-skills across six schools of Mysore varied from 75% to 95%. significant differences in MLL attainment acreoss the six schools of Mysore were seen in life skills of problem-solving, creative thinking, critical thinking, effective communication, self-awareness and coping with stress.
Implications of the study:
Action points for improving school education:
Many of the emerging trends and needs have already been dealt with at length hitherto under the 21st century fluency discussions. Keeping these in mind the schools need to execute the following agenda to improve school education in future:
incorporate Life Skills Education and Assessment as a part of the Biology Curricula as has already been done by the CBSE from 1st to 8th standards so far.
Make Life Skills Programs a part of various social activities in the school like Science Clubs, National Cadet Corps, and Summer Science Camps and other cultural programs and developmental activities.
Introduce a minimum programme of life skills in the form of a Life Skills Curriculum for Adolescents of XI and XII standards conducted either during summer and winter vacations.
Identify and train teachers/ staff members of the school/colleges/health clinic for conduction of an intense crash course in Life Skills Education.
Develop a 5-point or 10-point Life Skills Curriculum based on the 5-paired thinking, solving,coping,understanding and relationship skills given by WHO (1994) or based on the 10 Life Skills mentioned by WHO(1994).
Interpolate and extrapolate Life Skills into Science Curricula as units/ subunits and Science into Life skills curricula.
Initiate and conduct training programmes for school teachers as a PAC programme in NCERT.
Develop materials for life skills training based on local and national needs and the curricula followed at these levels (be it the Sciences, Arts, Engineering or Humanities)/ or alternatively develop materials based on WHO(1994) Life Skills alone.
Make Life Skills Training Materials and Trainers/Providers available to schools. A guidance counselor could easily take on the role of a Life Skills Trainer in Schools.
Invite Health Professionals and Doctors for interactions with school students on a regular basis in the schools.\
train rural and urban school teachers for dissemination of knowledge and materials on life skills.
Introduce psychology as a part of the Biology/ Science Curricula at various levels of teaching as Life Skills are mostly Psycho-Social Skills.
Introduce a paper on Life Skills Education into the NCERT’s ongoing International Diploma in Guidance and Counseling programs to turn out individuals with Life Skills Training for Schools.
Maintain biofeedback labs and introduce biofeedback programmes through consultations with Doctors in schools to improve the overall performance of school students depending on individual drawbacks and limitations.
Introduce evaluation through computers/indirectly/incognito in order to ascertain and assess individual capabilities without affecting performance- besides continuous and comprehensive evaluation.
Bring environmental education and its wider implications into focus in the Science Curriculum at the Secondary stage as this helps in building harmony with nature through awareness and understanding of relationships of man and nature. As of today, we have EVS till the V standard and it is science in the higher classes.
Bring environmental engineering (a part of B.E. course at present) to enable students to meet the problems of future head on.
Introduce bio-ethics and bio-piracy apart from bio-diversity as a part of XI and XII standard syllabi.
Introduce Mind-lab and mind-lab games in schools.
Keyword(s): NCERT, CBSE, PUC I, PUC II, XI Standard , State Syllabus, XII Standard