Last fall, I asked faculty, parents and members of the community for their responses to the question “What knowledge, skills and dispositions do you feel Masconomet students will need to master in order to be successful in the future?” I’ve compiled the responses from these groups and have presented them below in the form of a “word cloud” (https://www.wordclouds.com/). In a word cloud, the size of the word signifies how many times it appears in the response list. The largest words appear many times, while the smallest words appear only once.
Here’s the Word Cloud built from responses from the Masconomet Faculty:
Here’s the Word Cloud composed of responses from parents and the community (Note “S. & E. awareness” is an abbreviation for “Social and Emotional awareness”):
Finally, here’s a Word Cloud that combines the responses from both groups:
As I review these Word Clouds, I’m struck that there is very little to be found in the way of traditional academic content on either list. “Writing skills” probably comes the closest to being a part of the traditional academic curriculum, but there is no list of essential historical dates or places to memorize, no essential mathematical operations to master, and no essential pieces of literature to read.
What has made the list are what are known as “soft skills,” such as “collaboration,” “problem solving,” “communication,” or “critical thinking.” While the name “soft skills” probably refers to these skills being in the affective domain and more difficult to measure through traditional testing, I would argue that they are any thing but “soft.” Mastery of these skills are going to be more valuable to our students as they navigate the unknown challenges of the future than any discreet facts they could learn.
I think the similarities between the lists complied by the faculty and parents and the community is a good sign. We seem to be in agreement on what our students should know, do and feel. Our job as educators and as a community is now to make sure our system is designed to deliver helping our students to master these knowledge, skills and dispositions.