Soft Skills for Success

Principals Pen Monday, 14 Mar 2022

What are the essential skills students must develop, in order to succeed in later life?

Whilst skills in the three R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic) and the technical skills of the era (eg coding) rate highly in the primary school setting, soft skills rate even higher.

Soft skills are a combination of character traits, attitudes and social skills; perhaps best summarised as emotional intelligence.

Living Faith’s Beliefs About Learning state that we believe resilience, grit and effort is just as important as academic rigour. We also believe that the development of skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, negotiation, responsible leadership and collaboration are more important than the memorisation or retention of easily outdated information.

But why?

Schools were established in and for the industrial era. The traditional school environment provided instruction in technical skills that would serve children at a time when it was most likely a graduate would gain employment on an assembly line and have one workplace and career for a lifetime. Today, McCrindle reports that, in Australia, the national average tenure in a job is under four years, and today’s school leaver will likely have 17 different employers in their lifetime. This, combined with the reality that jobs of the industrial era are now automated and all but obsolete (when did you last hire a blacksmith or need the help of a switchboard operator?), means that today’s children require a different skillset. Soft skills, which were once under-valued in the workplace, are now the skills that will secure our children’s future success.

Living Faith’s approach to teaching and learning fosters a plethora of soft skills. It would be an inordinate task to list them all as so many are implicit, but here’s my attempt: accountability, adaptability, authenticity, collaboration, communication, compassion, complex problem-solving, creativity, courage, curiosity, empathy, forgiveness, generosity, global awareness, grit, growth mindset, humility, humour, imagination, independence, initiative, interdependence, kindness, leadership, optimism, patience, perseverance, resilience, resourcefulness, responsibility, self-awareness, self-direction, self-reflection, self-regulation, service, spiritual wonder and tenacity.

Most importantly, to experience success in adulthood, it’s essential that children flourish in agility and flexibility. After all, they are growing up in an era of change unlike that of any previous generation. God promises that he has prosperous plans of hope and a future for our children. We can help them to thrive in this exciting future by nurturing within them a lifelong hunger to learn, unlearn and relearn.

Read more about soft skills and the changing nature of education:

Jane Mueller, Principal