Boriana Valentinova

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Psychology in school

Did you study psychology in school?

About a year ago, I worked with a client interested in launching an online crash course about team management in times of crisis. Part of my job was to understand the market – if there was a demand for such a crash course. Effective team management during crisis depends on the people skills of the team leader. Good people skills mean that the leader understands human psychology and social behaviour.

So, we set out to determine what percentage of managers within my client target had such knowledge and how many could profit from a crash course. First, we published a survey on social media platforms asking if people have studied psychology in school or university or have learned about it later in life. We very much expected the results we got, but the percentile distribution was surprising for everyone.

Ther results from our survery

46% had never studied the subject, and 8% did so only later in life. So that’s a total of almost 55% that didn’t study psychology in school and didn’t have a knowledge of human behaviour.

Based on this evidence, we launched the Effective Team Management Course. It quickly became a bestseller, and my client is working on the second edition.

However, the survey results stuck in my mind. And the recent increase in demand for mental health therapy due to COVID made me think: how come we learn so little or nothing about people? Of course, we learn about other things in school… maths, English (or another primary language), geography, history, biology, physics, chemistry, music, sports, and even Chinese…. The list is endless. But we don’t study human psychology – we don’t study ourselves. I guess knowing about ourselves was not a priority when school curricula were established. But why wasn’t it if we were the basis of society? And still are.

My point is: becoming a good manager, a leader, a good parent, or even a good spouse depends hugely on understanding human nature, which we learn only in psychology or sociology class. So why don’t we have the subject in primary school, secondary school, or university (in any discipline)?

No wonder as we grow, we spend enormous time and resources trying to understand ourselves and others, learning how to deal with conflict at work and home.
No wonder there is so much anxiety and depression.
No wonder people are collapsing mentally with the stresses of work, at home and recently with the Covid footprint.

Mental health 'experts'

Psychologists and psychiatrists are constantly in demand. However, getting therapy and seeing results is a long process. It’s difficult to fix a broken inner self. But we are under pressure and in a rush, so we want immediate results. We then turn to the alternative: self-proclaimed specialists who promise fast results with low effort and have no deep knowledge of psychology and human behaviour. The market is full of it.

Currently, almost everybody is somehow an expert in dealing with mental issues. As a result, redundant and unhelpful advice, training, coaching, and treatments are streaming relentlessly in the battle to grab your attention and promise you heavenly results. And empty promises are like building sandcastles – they are unsustainable. So often, after dealing with such a ‘professional’, we find ourselves right where we started.
I would love to see a change in school curricula and see psychology as one of the compulsory subjects in primary and secondary schools and all university disciplines. Wouldn’t you?

I leave this thought open for comment. Don’t hesitate to contact me here if you fancy discussing or sharing your opinion.

Meanwhile, select your psychologist, coach, or mental help advisor, like your financial advisor or personal GP. Make sure they have a solid background and check references before signing a deal.