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They’re Not “Soft Skills” — They’re The Basic Social and Emotional Skills Everyone Needs to Succeed

Gary Karlson is a master teacher — so “master” that he is now an assistant principal. But last year, when he was still teaching third grade in a Title 1 school, he invited us to meet his incredibly sweet students who had done dozens of  independence-building Let Grow Projects throughout the year — from teaching a sibling to ride a bike, to learning to make tortillas, to fashioning an “amphibious vehicle.”  Below is our 2-minute video.

And now here is Gary’s first blog post for us, about the absurdity of considering “soft skills” as educational also-rans. As he points out, even at parent-teacher conferences the focus is usually on academics, when the deeper, more important questions would include:

Does my child make and maintain friendships? How do they react when they don’t understand something? Do they work well in groups? Can they ask for help? Do they demonstrate independence?

Now with the kids at home 24/7, parents are seeing the full spectrum of their children’s schoolwork AND their social-emotional skills. I’ll bet the collaborating, creating, and dealing with frustration seem at least as valuable (solid gold! ruby-precious! desperately desired!) as any worksheets.

So as Gary writes about the day when kids return to school: “Like our children when they realize a game isn’t fun anymore, let’s not be afraid to hit the reset button.” Turning out curious, gracious, helpful, hopeful humans should be as valued as graduating a class of straight-A students.

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