Bear Grylls: school didn’t give me life skills

The TV adventurer says his Eton schooling didn't equip him with key life skills - and that school high flyers often end up as 'disasters' in later life

Will Hazell

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Bear Grylls has said his schooling didn’t give him important life skills such as “how to lead a team” and “how to communicate with people”.

The broadcaster, adventurer and Chief Scout also said that many of those who excel at school often end up as “disasters” in later life.

Speaking at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, Mr Grylls said that he regretted that his education at Ludgrove School and Eton College didn’t equip him with key life skills.

“I wasn’t very good at school, I struggled a lot with confidence and everything,” he said.

“But I look back now with my own kids, and I see it with my own kids – I wish school taught them stuff that really helps them.

“I wish they’d taught me how to keep fit, how to eat healthy food, how to lead a team, how to communicate with people.

“Even a bit of entrepreneurial stuff, citizenship, all the business stuff, a bit of tax, bit of legal… stuff that you learn by mistakes over the years.

“A bit of unarmed combat as well – maybe I should start a school!”

While Mr Grylls regretted gaps in his schooling, he has also spoken passionately in the past to TES about teachers who were an "inspiration" to him at school.

At the summit, Mr Grylls also said that school high flyers often didn’t get on in later life because they’d failed to develop resilience.

“I think schools celebrates the good looking guy, or the sporty guy, or the academic guy,” he said.

“Life doesn’t care [about those attributes] - it does not care.

“When I was at school, the people who were brilliant at school were often disasters in life because they missed the one element that really matters in life, which is called the fight.

“The great people I know at life often struggled at school, but it was the struggle that developed the strength. So my message always to kids that are shy and not very confident at school is – you’ve got it, you’re the ones, go for it.”

'Show them something more fun'

Mr Grylls said that modern society was too obsessed with health and safety, and that it was important young people were allowed to take risks.

“When I took over as Chief Scout I said to them ‘I’m bad at meetings, I’m pretty scruffy, and my health and safety is sometimes a bit dubious’,” he said.

“We want to keep young people safe… but you can do it in such an exciting way.

“I think if you strip risk out of young people’s lives, you kill their spirit. Risk is all around us, all of us everyday - you empower kids when you teach them how to manage that risk.”

He also said that educators, who he described as “extraordinary people in a truly extraordinary profession”, had a responsibility to break children’s addiction to devices and to keep them active.

“It comes down to parents and teachers, it comes from us… it’s example, example, example.

"There’s a definite place of course for screens… but it’s about keeping it limited and actually showing them something more fun,” added

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Will Hazell

Will Hazell

Will Hazell is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @whazell

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