Americans Say U.S. Schools Should Teach “Soft” Skills

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Most Americans believe that today’s schools should teach “soft skills.” More than three in four adults “strongly agree” that K-12 schools should teach critical thinking and communication to children. And 64% of respondents strongly agree that goal setting should be taught, while 61% strongly agree schools should know how to motivate students. A majority also strongly agree that things like creativity and collaboration are also meaningful teacher targets.

Expectations for Today's Schools Among the American Public

Among the skills asked about in the poll, Americans were least likely to strongly agree that schools should build student character and promote student well being, but a majority still did.

Parents Don’t Overwhelmingly See Schools Improving Child’s Well being

Parents do not see their child’s school as making a major difference in promoting their child’s well being in any kind of overwhelming fashion. One-third of parents strongly agree that “My child has substantially higher well being because of the school he or she attends,” and another 31% “agree” with this statement.

A little over half agree or strongly agree that their child’s school promotes building relationships with family and friends. A similar percentage also agree that their child’s school does things to help their child be healthier and encourages them to be more involved in their community.

When it comes to financial well being, fewer parents (15%) agree that their child’s school is involved in teaching their child how to manage finances more effectively.

Goals for school achievements


Americans’ views on what schools should be teaching parallel the opinions of employers, educators, and young people themselves, who are calling for students to be better equipped to analyze information, communicate effectively, and to collaborate with diverse people in a global work environment to solve complex problems.

While student success may depend on mastery of content in core subject areas such as math and reading, it also depends on more than knowledge of core content. Critical thinking, creativity, communication, and other soft skills, as well as student physical and social well being, are also necessary for future success in higher education and in the workplace.



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