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Letter: Seven skills critical for success

By Tom Hoff, SW/WC Service Cooperative, Marshall

It is hard to imagine that students in our schools may one day have jobs that currently don’t exist. Even if we don’t know all the jobs that will be available, we can still help them develop the skills they need, no matter what type of career they choose.

So, what skills will students need in order to be successful in their adult lives? Opinions differ and the words people use to describe the skills vary slightly, but the research is pretty clear about what students will need to know and do. Tony Wager, educator, school administrator, college professor and international best-selling author, interviewed hundreds of business leaders and conducted numerous “learning walks” though schools and classrooms across the county to determine the “Seven Survival Skills for Careers, College and Citizenship.” While every student may not fully develop all seven, they do represent skills that students will need to learn and practice if they want to succeed in the workplace, college and as active community members.

The Student Enrichment programs at the SW/WC Service Cooperative are committed to providing opportunities for students to explore new things to help them find their passion in life, but we also want to make sure they learn and practice the skills they will need for a successful future. We have already correlated our student conference classes with the Minnesota Academic Standards, and starting with our Science and Nature Conference in May, we will begin linking our programs to, what we will refer to as the Seven Critical Skills for Success. They are the same set of skills that Tony Wagner identified through his research, but we have rephrased some of them to make them more identifiable to students. The skills are: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving; Teamwork and Leadership; Adaptability and Willingness to Change; Initiative and Entrepreneurism; Effective Oral and Written Communication; Accessing and Analyzing Information; and Curiosity and Imagination.

Our challenge in education is to provide opportunities for students to develop the Seven Critical Skills for Success and still maintain our focus on high academic achievement. The good news is that many teachers have determined instructional methods that accomplish both. As an organization, the SW/WC Service Cooperative is committed to helping stu-dents prepare for adult life and will assist the schools we serve in any way we can to reach that goal.