Mr Zig Ziglar, an internationally known motivational and business speaker, identifies goal education as a very important educational tool that should be taught to students but isn’t.

“Studies tell us that only 3 per cent of people in the United States set goals, and they are among the wealthiest people in the nation! Why so low? When we ask people why they don’t set goals they often say, ‘I don’t know how.’”

While he is referring to the US, it also paints an accurate picture of many countries and the way they approach education, including Singapore.

“And all that’s required to change this deficiency is a single semester, even half a semester, devoted to teaching goal setting.”

More educators around the world are realising the importance of goal education for students to supplement their traditional math, science and language arts curriculums. They realise that students who do not know how to set and achieve goals for themselves go out into the world with their hands tied behind their back.

They may have the knowledge to succeed but what they don’t have is any idea of the steps and strategies to use to get where they want to go, become what they want to become and achieve success. 

Many successful people say that part of the reason for their success is because they practised goal setting in their personal and professional life. However, goal setting is typically not taught in educational institutions.

Goal education gives students that extra edge. If you have students with similar academic aptitudes, the factor that differentiates those who will achieve success and reach their full potential may be dictated by which ones have the goal-setting, tracking and achieving skills that will allow them to use their knowledge to advance themselves towards their goals and permit them to fully meet their expectations.

The main objectives of a goal education curriculum include:

* Teaching students how to set and manage goals;

* Assisting students in realising the importance of goal setting and achievement in building successes in their lives;

* Introducing and nurturing a goal-setting mentality that builds achievers among students;

* Challenging and motivating students to constantly pursue self-improvement in academics, extra-curricular activities, life interests, community involvement and building relationships with family and friends;

* Instilling and reinforcing this goal mentality and methodology to help students achieve their personal objectives during their school years and in adulthood; and

* Getting students excited about setting and reaching goals.

Progressive educators are realising that learning to set goals is a character development tool that students can use to take on more responsibility and to learn from both the success of achieving one’s goals and the failure of falling short of one’s goals.

Goal-setting research in school settings shows that students’ learning and motivation can be improved when students pursue goals that are specific, immediate and moderately difficult so long as they receive feedback on their goal progress.

Further research has shown that underachievers either had no particular goals, or if they have goals, aimed them impossibly high. Students who achieve the most, by comparison, set realistic, attainable goals in terms of their school work. 

But this goal-setting mentality should not be confined to the classroom. Setting behavioural goals that promote mature and correct choices in how they interact with friends, teachers and other adults will advance proper socialisation skills.

Learning goal setting and achieving skills will also benefit the child in his or her extra-curricular interests and hobbies. It is important for children to discover and develop talents, interests and skills while growing up.

Goals provide a standard against which students can gauge their progress in various parts of their lives. Learning how to set, track and achieve goals can have a substantial impact on a student’s self-confidence and the future success of his personal and work life.