Are you a parent or educator concerned about how well your children’s education is actually preparing them for life? As a parent, teacher, school leader, and educational consultant, I can relate to the question: Where do these skills fit into my child or student’s education? Now I ask you: What skills do you value most?

 This is the first article in a series that will explore skills vital to success in our society and provide you with tips to teach, develop and strengthen these skills.

There is a lot of pressure in schools nowadays to get students to pass achievement tests. (Reading, Writing, ‘Rithmetic– Oh, my!)  Add to the pressure cooker STEM, STEAM, Common Core, state testing, PSAT’s, SAT’s, and you have a great big accountability soup! While each piece is valuable and important in its own right, none are the be-all and end-all of education.

Using our soup analogy, I think it is fair to say that these components are important and are the various vegetables that chefs say must go into the soup. I believe that the vegetables can’t successfully make a soup without the base, or the broth. I think these tests do not allow schools the time and resources to teach the skills that truly bring happiness and success.

Where Tests Fail You see, a student can achieve high test scores without fully understanding how to apply skills to their lives. Passing their SAT’s does not indicate that the student can effectively communicate their ideas or work well collaboratively. They can ace state testing without being able to advocate for themselves effectively.

Education must include so much more than the 3R’s. It must go beyond the national and state content standards. It is imperative that we teach students these important skills. We need to help students create their specialized and individualized broth for a genuinely successful soup.

21st Century Skills I believe that “21st Century Skills” are important. However, I can’t claim that they are fresh, new ideas. For more than a decade, the National Education Association has been active in a movement that encourages educators to teach 21st Century Skills. These are skills that companies have identified as critical for employees to effectively utilize. Most 21st Century Skills organizations and advocates agree that of all the skills, four stand out above the rest, and I agree. These skills have been dubbed “The Four C’s”:

Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking, and Communication.

Other really important skills have been emphasized by educators Robin Fogarty and Brian Pete who  identified the following as critical to successful functioning in today’s world:

  • self-reflection,
  • self-awareness,
  • self-initiative,
  • self-direction,
  • self-assessment, and
  •  self-regulation

and placed these skills under the umbrella of metacognition. (FOGARTY, ROBIN, and Brian Pete. METACOGNITION: the Neglected Skill Set for Empowering Students. Hawker Brownlow Education, 2018.)

Okay, most educators realize the importance of these skills but often do not have the time and resources to do it all effectively. This is where YOU come in.

If you are reading this post, you are probably a parent or an educator concerned that traditional education might not meet the needs of the youth you care about. I know what skills are important to me and I know how to teach and support them in people. However, I want to know what is important to you. Which skills do YOU believe are essential? Which skills do YOU value most?

An Invitation Over the next couple of weeks I will write blogs addressing the 4 C’s (Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking). I will also collect information from you, my readers, to guide my subsequent posts. Each post in this series will contain valuable information, tools, and tips.

I invite you to join me on this exciting journey to support real transformation in our future, today’s youth!

Just click the link below to participate:

Skills for Success Survey



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