Core curriculum? Share your thoughts on teaching practical skills in college.

2 months ago 1

A couple of doctorate wielding professors at Sam Houston State think the university, and education on the collegiate level at large, is doing a poor job in a crucial area.

The couple is Drs. Sanjay and Gurinderjit Mehta. They teach classes in the College of Business, Sanjay over Marketing and Gurinderjit on Electronic Communications. Both are veterans in the education field and have seen hundreds of students file through their lecture halls.

One thing those hundreds of students are missing are “soft skills”. These skills are things that are not traditionally taught in the classroom but that are recognizable as building blocks of daily adult life; retirement planning, budgeting, tax planning, insurance purchasing, negotiating, conflict resolution, parenting, decision making, political knowledge basics, and stress management.

The doctors presented their proposal on solving this issue at this summer’s Teaching and Learning Conference, an event held yearly at SHSU, where professors present and discuss unique perspectives on teaching at SHSU.

The presentation was filled with statistics about basic financial literacy, and the current state students find themselves in.

“According to the 2016 National Financial Capability Study, 63% of American (and 73% of Texans) can’t pass a basic Financial Literacy Quiz,” Sanjay said. “Majority of students today grow up in divorce and/or single parent households, where parents do not have time to teach these skills and/or don’t know themselves.”

Sanjay offered a comparison of the difference between hard and soft skills.

“Hard (cognitive) skills [are] academic knowledge and expertise needed for one’s career (e.g., discipline specific knowledge, computer competency, analytical thinking, conceptual thinking, technical expertise),” Sanjay said. “Soft (behavioral) skills [are] personal attributes needed to succeed at one’s career (e.g., interpersonal skills, time‐management skills, written & verbal communication skills).”

The difference makes itself known not in the classroom, but months before as the curriculum for school year after school year is laid out and pedagogical plans are made.

What do you think? Where have you learned “soft skills”, if you have? What do you think about these sorts of practical lessons taking a more prominent place in the classroom? What would an ideal arrangement look like? Let us know by tweeting, emailing, or posting your thoughts on Facebook. We’ll be sharing the best responses with other readers in next week’s issue.

You can find the entirety of Sanjay Mehta’s presentation on houstonianonline.com