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Psyching Up For Life

Psyching Up For Life

March 18, 2012

Why Psychology should be taught in schools.

Once all the Science students are done with studying and complaining (which is likely to be never), they are going to assault me for writing this article. “We’ve tolerated enough pointless subjects in school! Y U NO let us study Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics in peace? Must you add another torturous subject to make Social Studies worse?”

I’m fairly accommodating, so I’m going to suggest introducing Psychology as an optional subject in schools.

Most people who start studying Psychology think at least once, “Everyone should know about this!” (So unlike the feeling you get after watching Kony2012.) And I second them.  Even if you have no plans whatsoever of becoming a shrink, a basic knowledge of Psychology can help everyone lead better lives.  My knowledge of the subject is restricted to two textbooks, but I can tell you what Psychology is not: mind reading. It’s actually quite a disappointment when your teacher tells you that on the first day of college. It is also not just about treating ‘crazy’ people.

Psychology in schools will help students in direct ways by teaching them about learning, memory and attention. It has taught me to identify maladjustment within myself, it reminds me not to stereotype people (like how I stereotyped Science students above, but I ignored that reminder because I didn’t know how else to begin rattling off the benefits of Psychology), it helps me think more clearly and deal with people better than before. These are useful skills.

These are rather obvious advantages. However, teaching Psychology is important not just to create more successful, better-adjusted people, but also more compassionate ones.  This really good blogger once wrote about how people misunderstood post-partum depression. If these people had studied even a little Psychology in school, they probably would’ve been more understanding. We could hope for better treatment of people with mental disabilities, too, and possibly a drop in superstitions and misconceptions associated with mental illnesses.

Psychology forces you to think about why people behave the way they do. It teaches you that everything has a reason. All that automatically makes you understand people and consequently treat them better.

We are also subtly taught about how to bring up children (I know, already). If India, primarily a country of young people, wants to improve the quality of its human resource, teaching them Psychology would be a step in the right direction. 


  • Jaai
    10.04.12 12:05 PM
    @Vivek Iyer: I agree. Now I know why an "overhaul" of the education system is often cited as the solution to all our problems.
    @Jalpa: Thanks a lot. I think certain of the basic theories must be taught (memory, emotions, learning, adjustment) and then research can be encouraged.
  • Jalpa
    22.03.12 12:02 PM
    Hi Jaai,

    I cant agree more on this. I have loved psychology since my school years. Its not that I studied any of the Sigmund Freud books or gave any examination. Its kind of a natural tendency with in me to study people's behavior under certain circumstances and to know more about their thought process. As you said this really helps to become more tolerant and kind of can guess how the opposite person will react.
    But I feel that if its introduced in school as subject to be taught from books and evaluated by exams it might not do justice to the subject itself. It should rather be made a very practical subject just observations & inferences backed up by well established theories.

    Also, I strongly feel that the use-cases which would have been existed 10-15yrs ago no longer hold true. There has been a major change in last decade as to how people interact(use of fb/mobiles), their tolerance power has changed(women are no longer highly dependent on their husbands). I would be nice if a good combination of a good psychological and sociological model is exposed to students. This will surely help them cope up with problems in everyday life.

  • Vivek Iyer
    Vivek Iyer
    19.03.12 08:06 PM
    @Jaai & Pallavi: I agree that it should be in the syllabus, and be learnt profoundly rather than from an examination point of view.

    But you know the problem here, if there are no exams for a subject, then its considered futile, to the extent that even teachers won't bother to show up in class! At uni level, we have a subject called "Personality Development", which is also graded in the finals sans exams. Teachers barely make it to class, and end up giving an A grade to even the student who can't frame a single sensible sentence properly. Its really frustrating for those who are genuinely good!
  • Rajpriya
    19.03.12 04:30 PM

    I know a family had to suffer from something similar to Post-partum depression. I don’t even know if it’s one and the same thing.

    Schizophrenia. It is supposed to have happened immediately after the birth of a child and with the person concerned started having hallucinations. Psychiatrists had prescribed strong anti depression pills and the affected person slept most of the time resulting in blood getting clotted that needed another pill to make blood thinner.

    I was told that there is no cure for Schizophrenia. It was a very sad story with Psychiatrists unable to do anything other than prescribing strong medication.
  • Jaai
    19.03.12 03:59 PM
    Thank you Red! For those who didn't check out the link about post-partum depression: Red Handed's post was the inspiration for this article.
  • Red Handed
    Red Handed
    19.03.12 03:51 PM
    I loved this post and second everything that it says! Why do they have to wait till college to teach psychology and that too only in selected courses. It shud be brought it at school itself
  • Jaai
    19.03.12 03:35 PM
    @Vivek : Thank you! I'm looking forward to that piece.

    @Tys: Yeah it's usually an option in 11th and 12th. But obviously not many Science students want to be burdened by that. So it isn't very popular.

    @Pallavi: Very true. As long as we don't teach it properly independent of exams and marks, it'll just remain another random subject.

    @Harry: We need to know because then we understand their motives better, and we learn that everyone is good in their own way--if they aren't, it's usually due to factors outside of their control. It helps us become tolerant.

    @Rajpriya: I haven't but many people have. I have a few theories but I'm not qualified enough to make them public.
  • Rajpriya
    18.03.12 11:43 PM

    Internet is a coward’s paradise. Have you studied the psychology of such cowards who feel safe indirectly attacking others with their vulgar intellect on the net for no good reason?
    18.03.12 10:43 PM
    @ Jaai

    Do we realy want to know how and why people behave in a such a way, and when they do, why they do it.

    The twats will always be twats.

    By knowing this what can we do for them?

    Nothing. Nada.

    So I don't understand the point of this. But and this is big but, I like the Idea. Is this anything to do with you becoming future shrink ?

    On this note and because it's all about understanging, I was send this joke and I might as well tell you, so here it goes :- What do you call the skin around vagina........ A woman. :)

    I know it's bad but it wasn't me who invented this, but it's funny. Happy days JAAI.
  • Pallavi
    18.03.12 10:03 PM
    Very valid points, I totally agree! But you know what, we should include the subject but not burden kids with exams and test papers on it, as that steals the magic out of learning!
  • tys
    18.03.12 10:56 AM
    we had psychology as a subject in school. 11th and 12th actually. Didnt know till now that this is not a regular subject when u choose science. Forgot if there was a choice. I think it was an option.
  • Vivek Iyer
    Vivek Iyer
    18.03.12 09:47 AM
    Well written.

    I'm a science student, but frankly speaking, there's a lot more to life than physics or chemistry. There's a lot of depth in life through the humanities, and when both co-exist, is when we get a better life!

    I'll be doing a piece on the same shortly!

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