Louis DeBx

This conversation is closed.

How much emphasize should school put on developing soft skills –people skills- rather than intelligence?

Is developing super-smart kids without making them efficient “social animals” worst then the opposite? How should we balance it in school in order to avoid developping unhappy or unproductive people?

  • thumb
    Dec 3 2011: I agree with Salim,the people that made a change to this world had great people skills along with intelligence.But what really made them intelligent and successful wasnt the facts given to them through their education,it was the ability to see beyond the facts.
    • thumb
      Dec 4 2011: Hi Beste. Interesting thought that leads to two questions from me :
      - You think that peopleskills is what make great people but what do we do about the education of most peole ?
      - How do you think we can teach soft skills?
      • thumb
        Dec 6 2011: Yes i think soft skills are more important than being super smart and intelligent.I agree that some amount of intelligence is needed but i belive that anybody with a normal IQ is intelligent enough.Whats more impoetant is EQ, i think that individuals who can understand the way the human mind works,human emotions and individuals that have the ability to speak empathy are the real intelligent people.For example if we take a very smart person who knows every single detail ,fact about history and a person who understands why certain decisions has been made through history ,questions which ones were wrong /which ones were right? , is able to see through the both sides of the penny and can adapt this into his/her society ,the second one should be considered more intelligent as they see beyond the facts.I think we can teach these skills to our youth by firstly teaching them about themselves,making them aware of their strenghts;weaknesses,talents etc.. because a person has to know himself/herself very well in order to understand other people.Students also should be encouraged to think critically and ask the question 'why?' and develop the skill to be open to new ideas.
        • Dec 7 2011: Beste, I'm not sure I get the basis of your categorizations. If I'm reading this right, you're defining "smart" by knowing a bunch of facts, like in your example of one who knows every detail of history. Many people do this and so such is of somewhat little concern, although still not the best way of defining intelligence. What I take issue with is your grouping of social skills/EQ with what is actually critical thinking. "A person who understands why certain decisions has been made through history, questions which ones were wrong (or) right, is able to see through (to) both sides of the penny, and can adapt this into his/her society "is" more intelligent." He/she is a good critical thinker. This however has nothing to do with EQ or the soft skills. One can have EQ and not be a good critical thinker; the reverse is also true, and it is likewise with the ability to memorize a bunch of facts. In reality all three of these are important. While I agree that the soft skills need more emphasis in schools, your argument does little to make the case as it does not refer specifically to their value. Critical thinking needs more emphasis as well, but this discussion is without point if we are not clear as to exactly what skills, or lack there of, concerns us.
        • thumb
          Dec 9 2011: I agree Beste, that it is important to be aware of our strengths, weaknesses, talents, etc...."know thyself". We find this by exploring all parts of our "self" and by sometimes realizing the interconnectedness of the whole.

          I agree, that all skills are equally important, and it looks to me, like that is what Beste is expressing. If we have all the facts, it is beneficial if we know how to share them...is it not?
          I'm not understanding why you "take issue" with the "grouping of social skills/EQ with what is actually critical thinking".
        • Dec 10 2011: Colleen,

          It is the issue of having a operational definition for the problem at hand. With out properly defining the problem how are we to go about trying to fix it. Imagine we have this student who in reality, but blind to us is a great critical thinker who needs more social skills training. As educators and assuming the problem of lacking social skills is the “same as” lacking critical thinking we devote time, money and much effort to teaching more critical thinking skills. Based on our assumptions one would think we were helping that student except our assumption was wrong! He/She never got the social training he needed because we grouped two distinct phenomena and focused on the wrong one. We end up with a grown-up who is by reasonable definition intelligent, but has not the skills to share it and is thus functionally somewhat useless...

          In simple language imagine you know very little about a computer. You, in reality, need a new hard drive but you go to the tech store and buy memory--sort to speak confusing RAM with ROM. When you come home with your memory cards, good luck fixing your computer!

          A buzz word in education these days is “differentiated instruction.” How do we differentiate if we can’t tell the difference between two Equally Important but separate problems?

          This is why I think we should be careful when grouping different things....
        • thumb
          Dec 11 2011: OK Paul,
          Thanks for the explaination of your perception. The question at hand, is "How much emphasize should school put on developing soft skills –people skills- rather than intelligence?"

          I believe it is an "intelligent" practice to look at all aspects of anything and anyone. I love your example with the computer, because "in reality", I personally "know very little about a computer", so when I am challenged in that respect, I ask those who DO know about a computer:>)

          It feels like you are complicating this issue...at least for me...because I percieve everything as interconnected, and I do not percieve people's interests in one or the other direction to be a "problem", as you define the "issue". "It's not a problem...it's a feature", as one of my good friends likes to say:>)

          As I write in another comment..."I like the idea of introducing as many things as possible to kids, and they often focus on something they love doing for a little while....or maybe for a lifetime". In my simple "operational" plan, we encourage kids to be all that they can be, and with that purpose, most kids will develope ALL parts of their "self". Our focus, as adults and educaters, sometimes is simply to get out of their way....and out of our own way some of the time:>)

          There's a good example right here on this thread Paul. We have TED member Beste Arslen, a 16 year old, who offered a GREAT comment, and the first thing you say, is that you "take issue"...what she says is of "little concern"..."not the best way of defining intelligence"..."your argument does little to make the case"...etc.! This is a great way to squash a young person's effort in my humble opinion. I think she did a GREAT job in expressing her thoughts, feelings, ideas and opinions about this topic as it is presented.
      • thumb
        Dec 9 2011: Louis,
        I realize your questions are for Beste, and hopefully she will pop in here with her answers:>)

        In the meantime...if I may...
        "- You think that people skills is what make great people but what do we do about the education of most people ?"

        Personally, I like the idea of introducing as many things as possible to kids. They will usually focus on something they love doing...maybe for a little while...maybe for a life time:>)

        - "How do you think we can teach soft skills?"
        In my humble opinion, we teach ANYTHING best when modeling and encouraging the skill/behavior:>)
        • thumb
          Dec 11 2011: I'm sorry for replying so late,but I've been very ill for the past couple of days and couldnt really go online.Anyway :)


          I do realise that my answer wasnt very clear and specific enough,so thank you for informing me about that.However my point was that critical thinking does accually require EQ and soft skills as for a person to question why somethings being done like a decision made through history(for example, starting a war etc..) needs the skill of understanding the human mind and being aware of the human emotions.This understanding leads to empathy and therefore leads to good connections with the people around us.Being able to understand the world around us and being connected to it through comminication is the definition of an intelligent person in my opinion.


          I agree with you about introducing many different things to kids and giving them the freedom to explore their own talents and skills.Also Im very glad that you like my idea :)But i guess i didnt express it clear enough and thats what Paul was trying to say.My effort is not squashed by that at all,i respect everybodys opinions and am open to any critism,i believe thats how i can become a better person:)
      • thumb
        Dec 12 2011: Hi Beste,
        No problem about replying late...hope you are feeling better. I think you are very clear with your thoughts, feelings, ideas and opinions, and I'm very impressed with your ability and willingness to express yourself:>)
  • Steve C

    • +1
    Dec 17 2011: Hi Louis, (couldn't "reply," or "edit")

    I'd like to back-pedal a little...
    Maybe it can be focused-on by itself & taught, like philosophy; each person has to come to it from their own point of view. But, yeah, the mass of the villagers' actions are much more important.
    Completely agree.

    "self motivation and willingness to learn" That's two things my verdict is still out-on.
    As for "self motivation," I'm still trying to learn some aspects of that. Some stuff I learned very very young, & do almost daily; while motivating myself to make money is lacking. A will to learn: I'd like to think that'd be pretty automatic, as long as one wasn't "handed everything," like on science shows & wikipedia where all that's supplied is answers, but no further questions. Or if no one ever shares their own questions and wonderings or their own workings to find answers. Or if someone is always distracted by video games they won't think to find their own answers.
    Even math - I heard that at some math competitions they give kids a new problem & tell them how to solve it, and they have to figure out how to solve it - basically in a brand new way, (new to them); which makes me think that there is more to math than "one-sin-gle-line-of-lo-gic". (I even heard of one lady who solved math problems by moving her body in different ways. So, for her, it was half kinesthetic & half mental.)
    (I still wouldn't call them "the hard skills." That's a backwards view.)
  • Steve C

    • +1
    Dec 15 2011: The education of people should be A: the basics (honesty, integrity, etc.)* ; and B: how to learn on their own.
    *And of course we don't so much as teach it, as live the bedrock for them to grow up in. And, yes, we're failing at that miserably, so of course we try to focus on something external.

    How to teach soft skills? A: stop referring to it as "soft," as long as "soft" has a negative connotation under "hard" or "strong" or "good." It takes no real strength at all to be a tyrant. Intimacy is one of the hardest lessons to learn - nothing soft or easy about it.
    Friendship could well be the one true pillar of civilization. [And, no, that's not a pet theory of mine I've been carrying around, cuz that just occurred to me. But in the 10 minutes since I wrote it, I think I'm kinda liking it.]
  • thumb
    Dec 4 2011: Finding the balance, which I think/feel is a wise choice, means to look at all skills as equal, rather than one as better than the other. Being a "super-smart" kid with "people skills" is much more effective in our world than having "super-smart kids" who have difficulty interacting with people, or "social animals" who are not very smart. We need to stress the connectivity and importance of all skills in balance.
  • thumb
    Dec 16 2011: Hey Steve,

    A: as you say it's value that we teach along the way in family, sport, school all social moments. In my opinion, it cannot be a focus by itself.
    B: Completely agree.

    But then you need C: help children what they should or could learn and why it is important to learn. In other words: self motivation and willingness to learn. That's where they get the "hard" skills.
    With me on that point?
  • thumb
    Dec 3 2011: As high as possible.
    Finally people skilll makes the difference.
    • thumb
      Dec 4 2011: Salam Salim. If the difference comes from people skills, is the basis hard skills?
      • thumb
        Dec 4 2011: Wa alaikum as salam Louis.
        By saying People Skill wanted to mean Soft Skill.

        My experience says students with brilliant (though I have all doubts about the effeciency of current education syustem) results many times fails like anything in professional life because they lack that soft skill.

        Soft skill sometimes is also called as "interpersonal skill" or even just "People Skill.