“Soft Skills” Prove Equally Important in Students’ Long-Term Success
By Jessica Kelce, Ed. D., Head of Lower School, Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy
An important component of the mission of Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy is to prepare students in such a manner that they can “leave Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy with valuable tools for effective living and learning.” We are not only preparing our children for today’s challenges, we are preparing them to meet the challenges of tomorrow as well. Rapid changes in technology and an increasing emphasis on innovation compound the challenges of preparing children to be successful beyond elementary, middle and high school.
A 2012 article by Marcel M. Robles explains that as we become more fully invested as an information society, “soft skills are critical for productive performance in today’s workplace.” In today’s world, it is not enough to focus on content and technical skills, we must layer a strong foundation of content and basic skills with the ability to communicate effectively, think flexibly, and display a personal commitment to act with integrity.
Through his research, Robles identified the following as the top ten soft skill attributes:
Robles proceeds to define soft skills as “character traits, attitudes, and behaviors...the intangible, nontechnical, personality-specific skills that determines one’s strength as a leader, facilitator, mediator, and negotiator.” In reviewing Robles’ research, it is evident that development of soft skills is a key component in meeting our mission of preparing our children for effective living and learning.
This week, Holy Trinity’s Upper School hosted “Ask the Experts: An Insider’s View of College Admissions,” which featured admissions directors from Georgia Tech and the University of Florida, as well as the executive director of Colleges That Change Lives. Throughout the panel discussion, soft skills were noted as important part of the college admissions process. Colleges want to know if students are “reliable, adaptable and have ‘grit.’” They should be able to demonstrate that they are involved, passionate and have made a positive impact on their community – all traits that reliant on the development of soft skills.
There is a high level of harmony between Robles’ research findings and the climate and educational philosophy at both campuses. Studies show it’s never too early to help students develop these skills. At the Lower School, programs including Character Education, Conscious Discipline and chapel, along with purposefully designed classroom lessons and activities, direct instruction and modelling, all support the development of soft skills, as do extracurricular activities and sports. Together, Holy Trinity teachers and children enjoy an environment that nurtures the development of skills for success and the mindset needed to work collaboratively, work with excellence, and work to meet challenges.
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