Around the end of May of last year, when spring seemed it might actually be arriving, Kate found herself in the midst of a heated conference with one of our students, Jordan. The 7th graders were drafting their responses to personal essay questions commonly seen on independent school applications. The question they were working on that day was, “Considering all your classes, what has been the most difficult topic that you studied this year? Why was it difficult and what did you learn from the experience?”
Many of the conversations we have with researchers, policymakers, and district partners begin with a discussion of which Mindsets, Essential Skills, and Habits (MESH) we will focus on in our work together. The following table provides a glimpse of myriad skills that fall under the many related frameworks of “social emotional learning,” “21st century skills,” “character education,” and so on. This “Tower of Babel,” as we often call it, can quickly become overwhelming.