Teachers say students lack not "the three Rs" but the many Cs

School has long been associated with “the three Rs” (reading, writing and ‘rithmetic). But, according to a survey of more than 8,000 teachers, children most need to learn to:

  • Listen to others
  • Follow the steps
  • Follow the rules
  • Ignore distractions
  • Ask for help
  • Take turns when you talk
  • Get along with others
  • Stay calm with others
  • Be responsible for your behavior
  • Do nice things for others

Let’s call these “the many Cs”: compliance, concentration, considerateness, cooperation, cordiality, calm, conscientiousness, caring, etc.

Economists call these “soft skills.” Are our schools overemphasizing hard skills and failing to teach critical soft skills? If so, is our failure to teach soft skills undermining our efforts to teach hard skills?

Would students learn hard skills faster if they first learned soft skills? Judging from countless horror stories I’ve read about unruly students and teachers who quit the profession because they can’t handle a class of 25 students half of whom are more focused on disrupting their classmates than learning, I suspect focusing more on soft skills would improve the classroom environment and lead to greater student achievement on “hard” skills too.

Posted by James on Friday, February 05, 2010