For many people, the need for a more comprehensive education is becoming more apparent. That’s because research is showing that, rather than simply focusing on academic assignments and grades, education must support the whole child and nourish comprehensive development.
What exactly does this mean? In addition to academic development, comprehensive development includes social and emotional growth and progress. According to Deborah Moroney of the American Institutes for Research, this type of holistic education is “both the compass and guide” to success. In other words, a valuable and comprehensive education not only focuses on the hard, academic skills, but also requires the teaching and learning of soft skills.
Soft skills are attributes like listening, leadership and communication. Learning these soft skills offers both short-term and long-term benefits. When people learn how to communicate and work better with others, they immediately become happier and more successful. In the long term, soft skills allow people to make better decisions and overcome challenges. These are especially important skills in the workplace.
Unfortunately, the need for teaching and learning soft skills is not always recognized as a priority in education. The challenge lies in communicating the importance and criticality of educating the whole person through the teaching and learning of soft skills. What educators must come to understand is that these social and emotional skills will have a definite positive effect on learning, as well as professional success.
It’s time for us to reexamine our priorities in education and recognize that soft skills are not just commodities or “nice to have”. Soft skills are necessary for success. Only when this happens will teachers push their students to reach beyond academic success by developing in students the soft skills needed for personal and professional growth.