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Think beyond books

Our curriculum must encopass both cognitive and non-cognitive skills.   | Photo Credit: Pixabay

Our world is full of opportunities and complex patterns, and only students who are capable of seamlessly tapping into their cognitive and non-cognitive skills can get ahead in the race. But, what are these cognitive and non-cognitive skills?

Cognitive skills are brain-based and enable the child to carry out any task from the simplest to the most complex. They have more to do with the mechanism of how he/she learns, remembers, pays attention, or his/her approach to problem solving, rather than with bookish knowledge.

Strategic balance

For example, opening the door when the bell rings involves perception (hearing the bell), decision-making (deciding to open the door or not), language skill (asking who is at the door), motor skills (unlocking the door), and social skill (interpreting the tone and interacting with the person).

Non-cognitive skills include memory, language, interpersonal skills, verbal and non-verbal communication, emotional maturity, persistence, empathy, and others. So, why is the integration of cognitive and non-cognitive skills required?

The two help create a strategic balance in the mind, enabling a person to complete any task effectively and efficiently.

With only one kind of skill set, chances of success reduce. Work environments have become dynamic and involve interaction with people from different disciplines, and tackling various situations.

Also, it is quite difficult to inculcate non-cognitive skills in an individual after a certain age. Apart from that, the integration of cognitive and non-cognitive skills also helps students in their personal lives and professional lives.

Challenges of non-integration

Unemployablity: Many individuals are hired even though they do not possess non-cognitive skills. But this lack makes it difficult for him/her to interact with colleagues in a work environment, as they cannot create connections with others.

Inability to adapt: The lack of non-cognitive skills may also mean that a person is unable to match the expectations of the superiors or teachers. Also since they are not adaptable by nature, their growth tends to stagnate.

Mental health issues: The lack of a balance between the two skill sets may also lead to anxiety and depression as the individuals may find many situations unmanageable and perplexing.

How to integrate

Address the first challenge: The current curriculum is non-dynamic and does not allow participation in activities that help develop both skills. There is an immediate need to redesign it to integrate activities and practices that will help integrate the skill sets.

Evaluation and assessment: With the redesigned curriculum, schools can incorporate assessment practices to evaluate the students’ growth and development, as they grasp the knowledge and power of non-cognitive skills.

Teaching and learning methodologies: Help students develop non-cognitive skills, and provide sufficient training from the beginning, as students can be moulded easily at a young age.

Train the trainers: Teachers need to be educated in order to educate the students. Thus, schools must have sessions for teachers to learn how to teach both cognitive and non-cognitive skills.

The writer is COO, ODM Educational Group.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2021 8:45:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/importance-of-seamless-integration-of-cognitive-and-non-cognitive-skills-for-students/article33047178.ece

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