Friday, June 5, 2015

Current Events: Nonacademic Skills

How do we help our kids? What are the best ways to conceptualize the different ways that we try to cultivate skills and learning in our students.  Even when I worked as a teacher, I noticed that in my schools we, the teachers, often had similar goals but went about them in different ways and often used different techniques and different terminology around these topics.  While it is tempting to embrace unifying these terms and the efforts of this work, would doing so take away teacher autonomy and ignore students' needs?  The NPR Article does a good job laying out the different terms and what they mean so I will skip that.  What I am interested in is, how are teachers managing these different concepts and how are we expecting them to manage all of these terms?

Link to the Article - And Definitions of the terms and concepts

Teachers and schools will often not think about making ideologically consistent choices when they make decisions.  Teachers live in a pragmatic world and they make decisions about the students in front of them and for their classroom.  This isn't a fault of theirs, its a reality.  Teachers will use the terms and concepts that they feel comfortable with and they need to do to the best for their students.  Given the different concerns and challenges of the classroom, and teachers feeling overwhelmed, it isn't fair to impose ideological consistency when the academy and media can't be held to the same standards!

Is it fair to ask for ideological/philosophical consistency from our teachers given this reality of their job?  What do you think?


  1. I don't think it is fair to ask much more from teachers. The amount of overt knowledge a child has to learn/master by the close of high school is already daunting. Concepts like grit can only really be taught by an authority figure whom the student respects. With current laws, dept. policies, and PTAs limiting the methods in which teachers can earn that respect, it is a challenge.

    I feel that many of these soft skills, grit, and non-cognition abilities were traditionally taught by parents. I think the bigger question is, can we expect teachers to serve a surrogate parents to non-blood related students? This is something of a necessary question since in most families, both parents work long hours to provide for their families. Someone has to put in the time, and is it right to ask someone who is limited to 6 hours a day with 30 students to do so?

  2. thanks for posting!