Skills needed to become a successful adult
Published 9:52 pm Monday, May 22, 2017
By Joseph L. Bass
What is character? The April 2017 issue of the Phi Delta Kappan provides a useful framework for thinking about what is involved in an individual’s character.
This framework of thinking provides insights into our national challenges relating to poverty, high rates of violent crime, lack of educational achievement, unemployment and so on. Individuals who experience these negatives often lack the skills necessary to become successful adults.
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Our great American challenge is to determine how to overcome these negative factors in our society. What are the skills needed to be a successful American adult? How are these skills learned?
The Kappan reports on a project that defines three categories of skills needed to become a successful American adult. The three categories are intrapersonal, interpersonal and cognitive skills.
To acquire interpersonal and cognitive skills, a person must first acquire intrapersonal skills such as flexibility, adaptability, appreciation of diversity, valuing learning, cultural appreciation, curiosity, forethought, self-regulation, self-monitoring and self-evaluation.
Without an adequate set of these personal attitudinal skills, no individual will acquire the 15 other skills that enable interpersonal and cognitive abilities.
Interpersonal skills deal with person-to-person relationships. They include communication, cooperation, empathy, trust building, service orientation, conflict resolution, negotiation, responsibility, assertiveness and advocacy. Cognitive skills include recall, application, analysis, evaluation and creative thinking.
A person who lacks appreciation for diversity is unlikely to strive to develop interpersonal skills in our American multi-cultural society. Such a person is also unlikely to strive to develop conflict-resolution skills. A person who lacks an appreciation for learning will not strive to do well in school.
As should be expected, the focus of school instruction and activities primarily involves developing cognitive skills. A disappointing finding of the study is that even the schools considered the best in the nation mainly address the lower-level cognitive skills involving recall. This is related to the national focus on Standards of Learning testing.
Schools are not the primary sources of opportunities for children to develop the intrapersonal skills needed to become successful adults. Schools can provide some opportunities for this development, but only on a secondary basis.
Anyone experienced in early childhood education knows that most intrapersonal characteristics are already well established in children when they come to school as kindergarteners.
From birth to kindergarten, parents establish what goes on within a child’s mind. A 4-year old who lacks mental flexibility, adaptability, appreciation of diversity, valuing learning, cultural appreciation, curiosity, forethought, self-regulation, self-monitoring and self-evaluation is unlikely to change much during the rest of his or her life.
Such a child is more likely to experience poverty, violent crime, lack of educational achievement, unemployment and so on.
To overcome our national social challenges, approaches must be developed to address the lack of quality parenting in the homes of at-risk children. Such children are at risk because of their parents’ inadequacies.
Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at ABetterSociety1@aol.com.