“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
In the classrooms, corridors, activity rooms, and playgrounds of many schools, it is not uncommon to hear questions like “Why am I doing this activity?” and “What is the importance of co-curricular activities?”. You might have asked these questions or thought about it. Your parents might have asked these questions. Even teachers must have thought too.
What are the Co-Curricular Activities?
Co-curricular activities are those activities which are undertaken along with academic studies. Typically, co-curricular activities are carried out outside the normal classrooms but they supplement academic curriculum and help in learning by doing. These activities help students to develop problem-solving, reasoning, critical thinking, creative thinking, communication, and collaborative abilities.
Co-curricular activities in school might be compulsory such as music, art, or drama classes that take place during the day. Others could be voluntary such as participating in a school sports team, school debating teams, or student newsletters editorial team. In either case, participation helps students in emotional development, social skill development, and overall personality development. This is why the importance of co-curricular activities is immense.
Importance of Co-Curricular Activities
In the 21st Century, the world is changing fast. The conventional education curriculum, which was developed in the early 20th Century, has to pave the way to a new kind of education and learning. In the book 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times, the authors Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel have premised that “the world has changed so fundamentally in the last few decades that the roles of learning and education in day-to-day living have also changed forever”.
In the book Five Minds for The Future, the author Howard Gardner has outlined five specific mental abilities which will help one to be successful and happy. The five mental abilities or Minds as written by Howard Gardner are – The Disciplinary Mind (expertise in various subjects), The Synthesizing Mind (ability to integrate concepts from different disciplines to solve a problem), The Creating Mind (ability to think creatively to solve problems), The Respectful Mind (appreciation of the diversity in individuals), and The Ethical Mind (fulfilling one’s duties and responsibilities in the society as a citizen).
These concepts emphasize that in the 21st Century, education and learning must surpass the four walls of a classroom. The core aim of education and learning should be to foster holistic development. The importance of co-curricular activities cannot be overlooked in fostering holistic development.
Holistic development essentially means intellectual, physical, emotional, and social development which can be achieved only through proper education. Education plays a fundamental role in holistic development.
Co-curricular activities help in the holistic development of students and assist in developing critical skills and abilities to be successful and happy in the 21st Century life and workplaces. Therefore, the importance of co-curricular activities is immense during school and college education.
12 essential skills and values that you can develop through co-curricular activities
When theoretical curriculum and co-curricular activities are integrated together, then your chance of learning more and exploring more about your strengths, interests, and abilities becomes higher. Therein lies the importance of co-curricular activities which are supplementary to the theoretical curriculum.
It is true that much of your intellectual development happens, to a great extent, in the classroom itself. But, various other aspects of your personality such as emotional development and social skill development happen through co-curricular activities to a large extent. The key role and importance of co-curricular activities cannot be denied in holistic development.
The 12 essential skills and values that you can develop through co-curricular activities are:
Logical and analytical thinking – analyzing reasons behind events and situations
Critical thinking – examining concepts, ideas, problems, and issues
Creative thinking – thinking of newer ways to solve problems; visualization; thinking of new ideas
Problem-solving skills – solving problems utilizing various concepts, solutions, etc.
Leadership skills – taking initiatives and responsibilities; influencing others in working for a good purpose; setting goals; motivating others to work towards goals; taking accountability
Social skills – collaboration; teamwork; building good relationships with others
Emotional skills – understanding your strengths and weaknesses; controlling your emotions; empathy for others
Communication skill – the power of expression; listening to others; public speaking
Technology skills – using various computer software and apps for getting things done
Social values – respecting differences among individuals; respecting others values and culture
Ethical values – maintaining ethics in public life; good moral values
Recreational values – understanding the importance of leisure and recreation; participating in leisure and recreational activities