Dispositions for Success

Today I was catching up on some reading and ran across an article in Ed Week entitled, Experts Begin to Identify Nonacademic Skills Key to Success.

“[T]he biggest predictor of success is a student’s conscientiousness, as measured by such traits as dependability, perseverance through tasks, and work ethic. Agreeableness, including teamwork and emotional stability were the next-best predictors of college achievement, followed by variations on extroversion and openness to new experiences.”

What caught my eye was not the actual article, although I did find that interesting, rather it was the reaction to the article in the comments section. Many of the comments were rather negative, defensive even. Some even stating it is only through Charters and other private education institutions that these skills can be emphasized. Others were critical indicating this is not the job of schools, rather parents and community members should take the lead.

Why is it that so many of us think it is an either/or proposition? 

The ideas of perseverance, dependability, and teamwork and the idea of deep content knowledge are complementary and congruent. Good teaching is not just about the facts, it is about teaching students to think. What teacher does not want students to persevere through challenging work or consistently turn in their best work? As educators we are constantly reinforcing these skills or we are if we are teaching students and not content. What do you teach?

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