Should Practical Psychology be Introduced at School?
There has been a recent trend amongst educators in the UK to expand the remit of the National Curriculum to include practical guidance for secondary school students. Suggested topics include the complexities of the tax system, the basics of taking out and servicing loans and other financial matters that inevitably occur in adult life. The distinction of these additions is that they are purely for practical application in life rather than as part of a syllabus that leads to academic qualification. Since it is common to hear those in adult life bemoan the fact that they spent so much time at school learning things they will never use in life (Pythagoras' theorem often comes up at this point) then perhaps this development is to be welcomed. But what other skills necessary for adult life can be introduced at school in this way?
The study of Psychology as an academic subject is already established on the curriculum as a GCSE (although not widely available) and, more commonly, an A-Level. The syllabus for Psychology, when it is correctly taught, establishes the subject in keeping with its official classification as a science subject by focusing on landmark experimental history, knowledge of its key concepts and teaching a functional understanding of statistical analysis. All of which is how it should be for an academic subject. However, is there also value in taking time to pass on a practical understanding of the various therapeutic approaches derived from Psychology in the non-academic setting?
Currently adolescents and young adults are given scant information to assist them with understanding what is happening to them should they experience anxiety, social phobia or depression. They are left to endure the onset and growth of the problem alone, up until the point at which it reaches critical mass and help is finally sought. The help that is now available at this point is thankfully greater than has been the case in years gone by but the question remains – why not educate young people about good mental well-being before the crisis hits?
Mindfulness for young people has increasing levels of support and could well provide a starting point at a young age. Other useful insights could be added along the way such as learning to identify the cognitive and/or behavioural warning signs of sub-clinical issues at their onset and the useful ways to rationalise and challenge them. Such elementary psycho-education is a typical starting point for a great amount of psychotherapy and to arm young people with this training would, I believe, be a strong preventative measure against the onset of many sub-clinical mental health issues. After all, school is for education, isn't it?
© Tim Grimwade 2015
Tim Grimwade practices Cognitive Hypnotherapy in Central London. His main practice is located in Mayfair near Bond Street Station and he has additional practice locations in Clapham South and off Bishopsgate adjacent to Liverpool Street Station. Cognitive Hypnotherapy is a rapid, long-lasting and highly effective way to reduce anxiety and Tim uses it in conjunction with a variety of skills-training interventions particularly to help clients learn to obtain a far greater level of assertiveness and behavioural freedom. Find out more here.