Exceptional Education at the Heart of the Community

Why do I need to know that? Key skills you didn't realise you were learning at school

Have you ever sat in school and thought ‘why do I need to know this for the real world?’. Talking to some of the OCL national staff, this was certainly the case for a lot of us (sorry Maths - you came up a lot!) But actually, there are heaps of skills, knowledge and behaviours we carry with us without even thinking about how we have taken these straight from the classroom into our working lives.

Putting aside the obvious that some of us take for granted (such as reading, writing, basic math), let’s start with classroom behaviour. At the start of the year, teachers set out their expectations for how classroom behaviour should be – a classroom contract if you will. These will include things like ‘hands up’, ‘no talking over others’, ‘mobile phones away’. Getting used to these behaviours and abiding by them from a young age sets you in good stead for meetings in the workplace. Whilst this may not be a normal practice at your work, to list the rules the group would like to adhere to, there’ll certainly be an expectation there for you to behave appropriately.  

Dealing with feedback is part of everyday life, be it in a personal context or work context. As we learn to navigate the world, this is something we are taught to do from a very young age, and honed-in on during our school days. Particularly in the later years of secondary school, teachers are more descriptive with their feedback, and may offer ‘do-wells’ and ‘do-differentlys’. This prepares you for the working world as you will be in receipt of feedback (positive and what can feel like negative) each day at work. Learning to accept feedback is just as much of a skill as giving it, and something our teachers are trying to help us with!

How much do you have to do on your to do list today? I bet there are deadlines you need to meet coming up soon. Setting homework deadlines where children are encouraged to continue work at a pace not set by teachers is vital to learning or organise yourself and your workload in later life. Most of us think we gather this skill once we enter the workplace, but actually we are learning to develop this throughout our time at school – whether we were successful or not!

Communication and public speaking may not be your thing, but its definitely something your teachers will have encouraged. Outside of the performance element of drama, it’s likely you’d have done a fair amount of public speaking without even realising. Simply asking and answering questions in class or taking turns to read literature aloud are two examples of helping to build up confidence to speak up. Most of us would have assumed we were picked on to read either because we think we are good at it, or because our teachers wanted to keep our attention focussed (possibly both) but actually, it’s great preparation for life outside of education.

And of course, sometimes you will need to work out the degrees of a triangle, or entering into a conversation about Lord of the Flies will help you socially, but maybe take some time today to think about all the other things you learned at school. You’d be surprised how much you’ll come up with!

Hannah Skinner