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Emerging Topic in Education __Know Non Cognitive Skills For Kids or Young Adult Success

Updated on September 29, 2013

What Are Non--Cognitive Skills ?

Cognitive skills are typically defined as intellectual skills. These are skills both verbal types and math types that are one measure of ability to succeed in college and beyond in life.

Most of us who have attended high school in America are familiar with the SAT Test. This test is considered a good measure of Cognitive Skills. Focus of many educators in the science fields such as psychology focuses on examining how to strengthen cognitive skills in children as a way to improve educational achivements of children.

In America, particularly, in the recent few decades, so called non-verbal skills has been hypothesized as important element of success increasingly beyond school years to college and then to work/life styles for individuals. Non-cognitive skills often are skills related to emotional response, curiosity, tenacity, and other social behavior skills that are not measured in such a Cognitive Skills Test as SAT for high school students.

In fact, realization that non-cognitive skills are important for success in education and life is still developing to receive more credibility among educators and policy makes in education and government.


Two Popular Recent Books On Non-Cognitive Topics

Both Books Aviailable At Fairfax VA Public Library

A new book, "How Children Succeed" By Paul Tough, (Haughton, Muflin, Harcourt, 2012) author recently interviewed at PBS Radio drew my attention to this subject with which I have had some familiarity already for many years past from my own educational background as a student of the late business guru, Peter Drucker, at NYU Graduate School of Business.

In some of Drucker's books, he had discussed the importance of self knowledge, ie, whether one is "analytical" or "perceptual" for us graduate students in a MBA program. Of course there is cognitive skills in both sides of a person's skills sets, as well as non-cognitive. But emotions and social skills associated with non-cognitive skills often are more important where creative elements are more important rather than by "by numbers" analytics.

Paul Tough argues that "character" , a key ingredient of non-cognitive skills is far more determinant of success for children than the traditional cognitive intellect abilities. Tough argues for creating opportunities for "character building" experience, and to choose ethnical behavior option for kids and young adults in their education process.

A similar argument is made by a previous author on this topic relating to non-cognitive skills in a popular non-fiction book,

The Social Animal By David Brooks (Random House, 2011. Available at Fairfax VA Public Library). Brooks approach is different that Tough but both arguments are complimentary in a call for changing the still pervasive cultural belief in America that do not teach or emphasize non-cognitive skills development experiences as part of formal education in any meaningful way. Ethics and character formation is deemed to a non-education element left to parents and communities mostly.

What If ?


But then what if a kid where parental support or community support is non-existent due to unstable home and/or community of the poor where a child must grow up ?

Photo Album 01__Non-Cognitive Skills Building

Click thumbnail to view full-size

An Extreme Example of High Cognitive Skills - But Unmeasured Non-Cognitive SKills (2012 Community Safety Failure Incidence)


These are some important issues that some academic discourse already exist.

But more attention is needed compared to the substaintiallly more attention given to cognitive skills development by researchers in the recent decades.

As an extreme example, recent incidence in 2012 where a Ph.D. student at a State University in USA, who qualified to enter the Ph.D. program in neuroscience, but was apparently experiencing mental health issues, committed a criminal act of killing innocent by standers at a neighborhood movie theater .

Clearly this individual did not lack cognitive skills or otherwise he would not qualified by enter a graduate school university program.

But did this individual lack non-cognitive skills to build character and ethics ? Evidence sure points to a yes answer.

Is social malady that pervades many communities in USA, ie , increasing incidents of domestic violence or even mob violence so pervasive in certain cultures of humanity today are an indication of failure of non-cognitive skills development in education ?

Innovatino Mandate - Preps for Knowledge Economy of Mid-21st Century


Photo Album 02__Building Non-Cognitive Skills For Success

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Wisdom From A Gream Mind__B.F. Skinner - On Behaviorism and Enviornment__Key Elements of Non-Cognitive Skills Builiding


Give me a child and I'll shape him into anything.

B. F. Skinner

Photo Album 03__Non_Cognative Skills Development

Click thumbnail to view full-size

My New Group at LinkedIn.Com. - Welcome !


Guestbook Comments

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I think computer and visual medias killing the skills of kids. Kids are forgetting to play with nature and paper and pen.

    • reginaaj2gerica profile image


      6 years ago

      I enjoyed reading the information on this topic, Thanks for creating such an informative lens.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      A particular topic, I liked it, thanks for sharing! :)

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      6 years ago

      Glad you're getting this info out there.

    • marijahorvat lm profile image

      marijahorvat lm 

      6 years ago

      Very interesting topic. Great work.


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