There has been a feverish clarion call across the American educational scene, generated by the alarm that business analysts, employment forecasters, economic reporters, and educational leaders have expressed, regarding the gap between student academic achievement in STEM subjects [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] and the achievement shown by students in several of the First World countries. There is a coordinate gap that is said to exist between the number of STEM-related jobs necessary to fulfill today’s USA business needs and the skill sets among the younger labor force that is being sought to fill those needs. Therein lies our American and educational crisis—or so goes the clarion call.
While many of us in education are riding the concern bandwagon and revving up our curricula, teaching strategies, and marketing as we focus more attention and resources on STEM methodologies in the classroom, I like to remind people of the study Google conducted—its “Project Oxygen”—back in 2013. Google wanted to know what qualities marked the most successful and lasting employees as it questioned whether its own policy of hiring math wizzes out of elite universities was really the best HR strategy.
A Washington Post article in December of 2017 reported on the Google findings, saying that:
“The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.”