Common Core & Common Sense

November 21, 2013

I presume that teachers, students and parents would agree on the following;

The importance of evaluating how effective our educational system is and our schools are doing to prepare all students for the real world is common sense.

A curriculum that includes subjects like Math, History, English, Science, Language, Business and the Arts has support of principals, teachers, parents and students is also common sense.

Students have to be graded to determine their proficiency in what they are taught. Teachers are graded on how well they teach the subjects in addition to establishing a positive learning environment which inspires students to learn. Principals are evaluated on their ability to hire, motivate, lead and encourage high levels of performance from teachers and students. These are all common sense.

The ‘food for thought’ question I pose is this; why are we not teaching students skills often called “people skills”, “interpersonal skills”, “relationship building skills”, “soft skills” and “networking skills”? These are the skills that most, if not all businesses want in applicants and employees. To me, this is common sense. In support of this, I offer the following:

Ben Johnson wrote an article (July 3, 2013) in Edutopia titled ‘College and Career Ready: Soft Skills Are Critical’.  Several years ago, MIT began offering a tutorial in Social Graces for their students. Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman wrote a blog on October 2, 2013 in the HBR titled: ‘Keep Your Name Off That List’.  In it they listed 6 reasons why people are being laid off from jobs. #4 on that list was “They had (very) poor interpersonal skills”. A March 2013 Wall Street Journal article in At Work was titled “Recent College Grads Lack Professionalism”.  Jamie Hezlich wrote an article in Newsday titled ‘Costly price of rudeness’ in which she pointed out the lack of ‘regard and respect’ by people at work.  There are numerous articles from business owners and managers which support the need to teach what I call “knowledge applied” skills. These are the skills which allow students to use the knowledge they have in any job, type of work and every industry and business.

Common Core standards and STEM courses are important. Common Sense seems to dictate that students need to learn skills which prepare them to confidently apply what they have learned in school as they interact with the 1 constant in every business and the real world…people.

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