Should schools teach ‘soft skills?’ Many say ‘yes’

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  • kiddsport Fairview, UT
    Jan. 22, 2014 3:11 p.m.

    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.

  • dferg Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 22, 2014 9:36 a.m.

    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.

  • deseretwinter slc, UT
    Jan. 21, 2014 9:26 p.m.

    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 are teachers.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Jan. 21, 2014 8:25 p.m.

    "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
    * parents

    The 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?

  • cartan Provo, UT
    Jan. 21, 2014 6:18 p.m.

    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.

  • soccer coach Taylorsville, UT
    Jan. 21, 2014 4:45 p.m.

    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!

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    Jan. 21, 2014 3:26 p.m.

    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.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    Jan. 21, 2014 3:20 p.m.

    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.

  • calcu_lus tucson, az
    Jan. 21, 2014 2:27 p.m.

    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.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Jan. 21, 2014 12:19 p.m.

    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.

  • Christopher B Ogden, UT
    Jan. 21, 2014 12:06 p.m.

    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?