Something very interesting I picked up at this year’s conference. I was at a lecture on the concept of “Executive Functions as they relate to Soft Skills vs Hard Skills” and how the Montessori concept addresses the need to develop both Executive Functions and Soft Skills.
Executive function is a set of mental processes that helps connect past experience with present action. People use it to perform activities such as planning, organizing, strategizing, paying attention to and remembering details, and managing time and space.
Soft Skills are the character traits and interpersonal skills that characterize a person’s relationships with other people. In the workplace, soft skills are considered a complement to hard skills, which refer to a person’s knowledge and occupational skills. Sociologists may use the term soft skills to describe a person’s “EQ” or ” Emotional Intelligence Quotient” (as opposed to “IQ”).
An important point was made that I find very interesting. If you focus your attention on acquiring hard skills (think academics) and do not focus on acquiring the soft skills (think Whole Child Approach i.e., Montessori), you commoditize yourself in society. This means that acquiring information is not enough in today’s world. For example, a CPA can be replaced by any CPA. The knowledge just isn’t enough to succeed today. It is the Soft Skills such as negotiating, team building, creativity, communication, conflict management, leadership, manners, sociability, etc, that makes one so much more valuable than just the commodity of knowledge. The presenter went on to talk about the research that has been done in the last 10 years or so that shows the distinct advantages of the Montessori Philosophy with regards to developing executive functions and soft skills.
Almost 2 million students will graduate with a bachelor degree in 2013. That is a lot of commodity!