Skills that Predict School and Life Success

Source: Huffington Post, Oct 2012

… there are a group of skills that predict school and life success, and many are similar to Tough’s. These include focus and self control, perspective taking, communicating, making connections, critical thinking, taking on challenges, and being a self directed learner. This is the list of skills I would argue are most important because they are based on numerous studies that follow children as they grow up.

Using the list of skills I identify, it is clear that they are indeed cognitive. They are also social and emotional. All of these skills are based on executive functions of the brain. These are the brain functions we use to manage our attention, our emotions, and our behavior in pursuit of our goals. Adele Diamond, one of the foremost researchers on executive functions, finds that they predict children’s success as well as–if not better than–IQ tests, as she explains:

Typical traditional IQ tests measure what’s called crystallized intelligence, which is mostly your recall of what you’ve already learned–like what’s the meaning of this word, or what’s the capital of that country?

What executive functions tap is your ability to use what you already know–to be creative with it, to problem-solve with it–so it’s very related to fluid intelligence, because that requires reasoning and using information.


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