What skills are needed for success in life?
The traditional focus on academic achievement misses the importance of non-cognitive skills, social-emotional learning, and executive function, also called “character skills.” There is now growing evidence that these skills predict an array of important life outcomes in areas such as academic performance, employment, earnings, and health.
Character skills can be taught, developed, and improved.
“The term ‘non-cognitive skills’ refers to a set of attitudes, behaviors, and strategies that are thought to underpin success in school and at work, such as motivation, perseverance, and self-control” (Gutman and Schoon, 2013).
“Social-emotional learning is how children and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions” (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning).
“Executive functioning (EF) is a strong predictor of children’s and adolescents’ academic performance. EF contributes to children’s abilities to learn and to succeed in school. Studies continue to provide evidence that [executive function] is associated with various aspects of academic success among both children and adolescents. Although direct effects seem to be especially strong for mathematics, they have also been found to be substantially related to reading, writing, and science achievement” (Samuels et al., 2014).
Durlak, J. A., et al. "Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning."
Gutman, Leslie M., and Ingrid Schoon. The Impact of Non-Cognitive Skills on Outcomes for Young People: Literature Review. London: Education Endowment Foundation, 2013.
Heckman, James J., and Tim Kautz. "Fostering and Measuring Skills: Interventions That Improve Character and Cognition." National Bureau of Economic Research, 2013.
King, Martin Luther, Jr. “Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes.” BrainyQuote. www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/martinluth402936.html.
Samuels, William Ellery, et al. "Executive functioning predicts academic achievement in middle school: A four-year longitudinal study." The Journal of Educational Research 109.5 (2016): 478–90.