Why Teach Social Skills?

Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

In this lesson, we will discuss why is important to teach social skills to children. We will also discuss the long-term benefits of explicit and targeted social skills instruction across different theoretical perspectives.

Why Do We Need Social Skills?

Because humans are naturally social animals, we've got to educate our children in social skills that may not always come naturally to everyone out there. Teachers can easily integrate instruction in these skills from a variety of disciplines, each with their own set of reasons why we should teach social skills. By looking at social skills instruction through a variety of theoretical perspectives--like biology, philosophy, civics, criminology, and psychology, which we're going to cover in this lesson here--we can have a well-rounded reasoning for the importance of teaching social skills.

Evolutionary Biology

From the perspective of evolutionary biology, learning social skills developed over time as a means of surviving in a harsh world. In nature, some species like mountain goats prefer living by themselves for the most part (at least until mating season), while other species like elephants live in groups and families. Humans are in the latter category and have evolved as social creatures who survive better when working together as a group. Such a long-range historical view of humanity makes social skills instruction integrate well into both natural and social sciences.


Philosophy and religion can play an important role in social skills instruction. Almost all religions have some version of the 'Golden Rule' to encourage people to treat others how they want to be treated. the prevailing philosophy guiding one's ethics is utilitarianism, which means the greatest good is the one that serves the greatest number of people. These are both concepts for instruction in social skills.


Civics (or the patterns of governmental structure of cities, states, and nations) is also a powerful reason that students should learn social skills. By learning to effectively interact with other people, students can learn how to participate effectively in government. Our systems of laws, rules, and social norms are by their very nature an attempt to formalize social interaction into universal principles that can be enforced. These governmental structures are primarily based on the Social Contract philosophy, which was a type of philosophy developed over the centuries by people like Hobbes and Locke that promotes cooperation for the exchange of benefits. This was developed during the Enlightenment Era of history, which was during the 16th through the 18th centuries and known for ushering in a more civilized society with theories of liberty, reason, and democracy.


Criminology deals with the enforcement of those rules of social interaction that are set up by these governmental systems. Teaching social skills can effectively prevent students from coming into contact with criminal justice services later on. Social skills instruction usually involves learning how to manage a crisis and cope with your own anger or the anger of others. From this theoretical perspective, it's easy to see how social skills instruction could be important to kids learning how to interact with the world.

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