There is growing consensus that so-called “nonacademic” skill such as character, grit and social-emotional skills. With so many terms encompassing so many ideas, NPR’s Anya Kamenetz offers this overview.
“More and more people in education agree on the importance of learning stuff other than academics.
But no one agrees on what to call that “stuff”.
There are least seven major overlapping terms in play. New ones are being coined all the time. This bagginess bugs me, as a member of the education media. It bugs researchers and policymakers too.
“Basically we’re trying to explain student success educationally or in the labor market with skills not directly measured by standardized tests,” says Martin West, at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “The problem is, you go to meetings and everyone spends the first two hours complaining and arguing about semantics.”
West studies what he calls “non-cognitive skills.” Although he’s not completely happy with that term.
The problem isn’t just semantic, argues Laura Bornfreund, deputy director of the education policy program at the New America Foundation. She wrote a paper on what she called “Skills for Success,” since she didn’t like any of these other terms. “There’s a lot of different terms floating around but also a lack of agreement on what really is most important to students.”
As Noah Webster, the great American lexicographer and educator, put it back in 1788,“The virtues of men are of more consequence to society than their abilities; and for this reason, the heart should be cultivated with more assiduity than the head.”
Yet he didn’t come up with a good name, either.
So, in Webster’s tradition, here’s a short glossary of terms that are being used for that cultivation of the heart. Vote for your favorite in the comments — or propose a new one.”
Read more of NPR’s glossary of terms here