That's all fine and dandy, but we're also telling our teachers to do a
better job teaching math, English, science, and reading. So what is it what
we're going to give up in order to make time to teach soft skills? Its a
good idea, but what is the trade off?
One of my bosses once said he'd hire a theater graduate over an MBA any
day. "At least the theater graduate can look you in the eye and speak
clearly," he said.
I have heard this soft skills argument for decades while the American math and
science scores from international and college aptitude tests progressively
decline. Meanwhile, the ego (self esteem)scores of the American students are off
the charts when compared to those who do best on the tests. We need to focus on
the three R's in schools and let the companies/business/govt give
communication and social training on the job...where the training is effective
and reality based. Schools are not substitutes for reality though they can make
mediocre students feel superior. We need to understand the difference between
training and education and realize most college and HS graduates stick to soft
stuff cause the hard stuff is difficult and reality based.
As a manager, I will take somebody with the hard skills who lacks soft skills
before somebody with the soft skills who lacks hard skills. I can teach you how
to get along with others a lot easier and quicker than I can teach you how to do
calculus.Of course, there's a limit - if you have great hard
skills but you act like the rebirth of Hitler, I probably can't rehab you,
therefore you don't get the job. But schools should be teaching hard
skills first. Once they master that (unlikely they ever will), then we can talk
about teaching soft skills.
I remember actually reading a study that discussed the value of non-cognitive
skills in an analysis of the very different outcomes for those that receive
their GEDs with those that graduate High Schools. In essence, what they found
was that the most valuable predictor of future success wasn't test scores,
but things like attendance. Kids who had the fortitude to be in school every
day, on-time, generally have better educational outcomes anyway. But there is
actually value to learning how to be there, day after day, even when it's
boring. No matter how much you love your job, there will be those days where it
is monotonous and boring. Same holds in college, actually getting to class
every day and paying attention is the most valuable skill you can have.
So, if the teachers are reqiured to teach all of the hard skills and all of the
soft skills. What will the parents be teaching their children? Where do
parents fit in on the education of their children? Of all the groups parents
should be the most worried about their child's future. They will either
have their child living with them at the age of 35 or their child will not be
able to take care of them when they are old. Even when we as teachers try to
teach the students to be on time and in class we are told by parents that we
should just focus on math. Parents step up! Please!
I'm disappointed that writing and critical thinking are considered
"soft" skills. Everything in school--reading, math, English, history,
etc.--should be supporting students gaining these skills. Everyone needs to be
able to evaluate stimuli in their world and make hard decisions. Sometimes those
decisions involve using math, sometimes writing, sometimes speaking, but the
"soft skills" undergird all of it. It is not "adding one more
thing"; it should be using the subjects that we have to greater effect.
"socioeconomically disadvantaged students are disproportionately left
out". "Critical thinking, and problem solving".Some old
words that means nothing.Put education in the hands of:*
teachers* school administrators* parentsThe Feds
can't balance a check book, let alone run our schools.Some
questions:Has the Head Start program reduced poverty?Has
standardized testing increased learning?For every thousand dollars
spent on education,--how much of it filters to the classroom?Does an
educated society have high poverty, and unemployment?How did
cooperative learning work out?Why are a third of our college
graduates from other countries?
Students definately need to learn more than how to pass a standardized test.
Whether it is called "soft skillsaaa'...or "hard skills", the
workforce of the future should be able to read, write, do math, think, vote,
and communicate effectively. Parents should be as involved in this education as
This is precisely why, with all five of my children, we didn't rely solely
on the public school system to "educate" our kids. They learned what
they learned while at school, but we as parents taught them courtesy, integrity,
how to properly interact with others, and self-reliance; we also taught them how
to function in society. Four out of the five are now in their mid-to-late
twenties and are young adults who function well in society; the fifth is still
in high school but has been taught the same skills.The problem is
that many parents today do not want the responsibility of "raising"
their children, and are quite satisfied to leave that duty to the schools. Well
guess what, parents? The teachers didn't sire your children, and it
isn't their responsibility to function as their parent. You decided to have
children; ergo, you need to step up and assume the proper role. The schools are
meant to be a secondary source for learning these traits and skills, not the
primary one. Stop being so self-absorbed and lazy. Raise your children so they
don't become society's problem when they enter adulthood.
Huh? I remember learning how to balance a checkbook in my 7th grade math class.
I learned critical thinking and decency in 5th grade by a very ahead of her time
Mrs. Ganz. It was all part of the curriculum interwoven with the hard skills
through practical applications. What's changed? Control has shifted to a
bureaucrat in Washington and teachers are squished into little socialist molds.
Character and critical thinking are in short supply on our liberal campuses.