Thinking Holistically In Skills
This is what I know about how and why to include #SoftSkills in subject learning to enhance the future careers of young people. To deliver soft skills in your lesson, read on…
The following qualities are from different business specialists and writers who have identified these key requirements;
Trilling & Fadel, 21st Century Skills, 2012: in explaining skills for the future; 1) Learning and innovation skills <critical thinking, problem solving, communications, collaboration, creativity, innovation.> 2) Digital literacy skills <information literacy, media literacy, ICT literacy.> 3) Career and life skills <flexibility, adaptability, Initiative, self-direction, social and cross-cultural interaction, productivity, accountability, leadership, responsibility.>
Forbes, 2014: 1) Ability to work in a team. 2) Ability to make decisions and solve problems. 3) Ability to plan, organise and prioritise work. 4) Ability to communicate verbally with a wide range of people. 5) Ability to obtain and process information.
James Caan, January 2015: 1) Communication. 2) Teamwork, 3) Decision making. 4) Taking responsibility 5) Time management.
Using the soft skills identified by others I will now explain how these could be delivered in GCSE/A-level learning. I am an experienced and successful Business Studies teacher and this is an idea for teaching and learning using a soft skills approach in an examined subject.
Business Studies: The examined element is Stakeholders. The group are given a situation; ‘A new road is to be built through a village linking two nearby towns’. The class is split into several groups of stakeholders (depending on class size). Each stakeholder group works together on their argument which will be discussed at a town planning meeting (teamwork). They will need to research (ability to obtain and process information) and decide (decision making) on their best argument. Stakeholder groups could include local residents, environmentalists, local business, banks, local builders etc. The next week or lesson the group has their town planning meeting, probably chaired by the teacher but it could be a student who has shown good leadership qualities previously. This will act as differentiation strategy for the more talented student to challenge their leadership skills further. The students will take on the role of their stakeholder interest (take responsibility). During this meeting students start to understand the role of different stakeholders and the importance of appropriate communication (ability to communicate verbally with a wide range of people). The final week, or lesson (could even be done at the end of the meeting based on time), decisions are made based on arguments brought to the table about whether the road should be built. To add in assessment, students could peer assess each others contribution to the task based on characteristics displayed against a specific skill/s. A scale could be developed by the teacher (which could be used over and over again) to help students make peer assessed constructive comments about each other. The great thing about this strategy is that students gain an in-depth understanding of the specific element for the exam and improve their Soft Skills through a real world activity. The young people also really enjoy this activity!
This could quite easily be transferred into other subjects. For example in English for a debate where students have to argue a different view point. A fellow educational writer, who is also a champion for soft skills, has written a brilliant piece on this http://www.innovatemyschool.com/industry-expert-articles/item/1230-softies-of-the-world-unite-the-importance-of-soft-subjects.html explaining the value of ‘transferable skills’ in drama and how the teaching of soft skills help the learner to get ahead in employment.
This is what I know about adding value for your students. The awarding body ASDAN Education – http://www.asdan.org.uk – provide qualifications that are suited to work alongside other GCSE and A-level subjects e.g. CoPE, AoPE or Wider Key Skills. These qualifications are not recognised on school league tables but do contribute to UCAS points for the learner as well as gaining them a national qualification recognised by employers. As a teacher and Assistant Head this is exactly what I did when teaching my GCSE groups. I had consistently high GCSE success in Business Studies with 75-100% A*-C GCSE year on year (above the national average) but better than that I pride myself on the fact that very few students failed to achieve their aspirational target grade.
This final thought; When we talk about adding value, way above achieving examination success, I know that I was helping the students to gain the transferable soft skills that I knew would increase their chances of success in gaining future employment or a career of their choice.
Make that choice and deliver soft skills as part of the learning that takes place in your subject.