Whatever Became Of Soft Skills?

, Steven Koskulitz, Leave a comment

By definition, soft skills should be in more plentiful supply than hard ones but are endangered by trends in both parenting and education and the overlap between the two, a scholar from the Manhattan Institute suggests.

American parents, particularly ones in the middle and upper-middle classes, have focused on praising their children and celebrating their individuality while parents in other countries have focused on teaching their children proper manners and obedience, Manhattan Institute scholar Kay Hymowitz averred in a lecture on October 11, 2018 co-sponsored by the Hoover Institution and the Fordham Institute. She related these styles of parenting to education.

She claims that schools in other countries reflect the ideas of manners and obedience while American schools reflect individualism and self-discovery: “American education institutions lead by professionals, many of whom are parents themselves, inescapably reflect these same cultural norms.” The modern-day parenting style of Americans clashes with what education has traditionally been thought to be, she argues: “And there’s a noticeable tension between the innateness of the child’s interests, talents, and self-expression on the one hand and the school as a collective enterprise on the other.”

Hymowitz is okay with some creativity, which can lead to innovation, but points out some problems with it when it is in excess in education: “Creativity doesn’t always play well with others, self-expression can be at odds with civility, and order and safety demand that children curb their energies and keep their voices down.” Later in life children who have been educated with this individualistic style may have a lack of soft skills.