The Hard Reality of Soft Skills

We are amidst an era where humans can forgo face-to-face interaction and still work at above-average productivity levels. Technology increasingly influences our access to be social in the emotional sense. To its defense, the positive effects on student learning are well-documented, from the benefits of iPads for skill building to its capacity to augment student learning by transporting them to a land far-away. We value the integration of technology and maintain that social intelligence is still a major differentiator.

Critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, communication, adaptability, and collaboration fall all under the umbrella of “soft skills” that are increasingly vanishing from today’s college campuses and workforce. These hard-to-find find skills are transferable anywhere. Although deemed “soft,” Seven Arrows works hard to create opportunities where these soft skills are developed daily. These invaluable skills are often a focal point of the feedback we receive about our students from the most competitive middle schools in Los Angeles.

Above: Podcast interview featuring 6th grader Jake Chandler.

Daniel Goleman, Ph.D. and author of Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence, states, “The data shows that [Social and Emotional Learning] programs yielded a strong benefit in academic accomplishment, as demonstrated in achievement test results and grade-point averages. In participating schools, up to 50 percent of children showed improved achievement scores and up to 38 percent improved their grade-point averages. SEL programs also made schools safer: incidents of misbehavior dropped by an average of 28 percent, suspensions by 44 percent, and other disciplinary actions by 27 percent. At the same time, attendance rates rose, while 63 percent of students demonstrated significantly more positive behavior.”

In regards to the workforce, Goleman asserts that there are new rules defining what makes a valuable employee. “These rules have little to do with what we were told was important in school; academic abilities are largely irrelevant to this standard. The new measure takes for granted having enough intellectual ability and technical know-how to do our jobs; it focuses instead on personal qualities, such as initiative and empathy, adaptability and persuasiveness. This is no passing fad, nor just the management nostrum of the moment. The data that argue for taking it seriously are based on studies of tens of thousands of working people, in callings of every kind. The research distills with unprecedented precision which qualities mark a star performer. And it demonstrates which human abilities make up the greater part of the ingredients for excellence at work – most especially for leadership.”

For more information about emotional and social intelligence, read more from Daniel Goleman’s website.