How Non-Cognitive Variables Fit Into Today’s Schools
By Michael Soguero and Sarah Bertucci
One of the advantages of working at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center is our good fortune to interact with so many different educational organizations. As a result, we sometimes see patterns or themes emerge among these disparate organizations that they can’t observe as single entities.
One of these themes we see emerging is the use of non-cognitive variables in such places as Albuquerque, Vermont or — on a national level — with the Big Picture Learning organization.
Before we get far into this, it’s important to note that terminology can be confusing. Whether in regional areas of work, specific organization decisions, or in the research literature, the term non-cognitive variable is sometimes known as meta-cognitive variables, interpersonal skills — and persistence and grit.
The norm for education has always been cognitive in nature, involving conscious mental activities such as memorization, rote learning and recitation. But to us, it seems intuitive that success in life — and what we hope for our students — is not just academic content knowledge.
There’s something more to the question, “What exactly is the purpose of school?” Take emotional intelligence, social skills and street smarts, for example. These are all elusive qualities that are challenging to name and measure, but most important in getting along in life.
Among our inspirations is Grant Wiggins’ March 2011 article A Diploma Worth Having, published in the ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) publication Educational Leadership. He wrote: Continue reading…