Following up yesterday’s post, Universities don’t teach as well as they think they do, I’ll offer a big way they could improve.
Learning social and emotional skills requires facing and overcoming social and emotional challenges, at least in my experience. Most active, social, emotional, expressive, performance-based (ASEEP) fields train people through practicing the basics—footwork in dance, groundstrokes in tennis, and scales with musical instruments.
Universities teach wonderful facts but regarding behavior, they teach compliance, sitting still, reading, and writing analytical papers—behaviors few value outside the academic world.
What the basics teach in one ASEEP field apply in most others—discipline, self-awareness, persistence, resilience, listening, self-expression, etc. Schools used to teach such things through sports and the arts. To clarify, not classes about the arts or sports, but participating in them.
Everyone loses competitions in sport. Every actor, singer, painter, and any other form of artist bombs a performance or creation. Everyone gets panned. Great athletes, artists, and performers learn what the business world calls leadership.
Universities could improve by mandating athletic and art participation. I don’t mean art appreciation, art history, or other academic class. I mean performing on stage, painting, sculpting, and so on. I don’t mean watching others play sports. I mean competing where everyone will experience loss—club sports.
I believe reinstating and requiring these two activities will improve student outcomes by helping make them mature adults and citizens more than almost anything else.
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