Thanks to Literacy Speaks for the heads up on this terrific story!
Photo Credit: NPR and the Co-op School
When economist James Heckman was studying the effects of job training programs on unskilled young workers, he found a mystery.
He was comparing a group of workers that had gone through a job training program with a group that hadn’t. And he found that, at best, the training program did nothing to help the workers get better jobs. In some cases, the training program even made the workers worse off.
The problem was that the students in the training program couldn’t learn what they were being taught. They lacked an important set of skills which would enable them to learn new things. Heckman, a Nobel-Prize-winning economist, calls these soft skills.
You might not think of soft skills as skills at all. They involve things like being able to pay attention and focus, being curious and open to new experiences, and being able to control your temper and not get frustrated.
All these soft skills are very important in getting a job. And Heckman discovered that you don’t get them in high school, or in middle school, or even in elementary school. You get them in preschool.
And that, according to Heckman, makes preschool one of the most effective job-training programs out there.