A short glossary of terms in education for non-cognitive skills for success

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This article, published on the nprEd website in May 2015, is a fun and easy read about the complexity of naming and defining the “non-cognitive” skills that have been identified to be important in education, and aims to provide “a short glossary of terms that are being used for that cultivation of the heart”. Terms discussed include Character, Social and Emotional Learning, Non-cognitive Traits and Habits, Growth Mindset, 21st Century skills, Softskills and Grit. This article provides some background information on each of these terms/concepts, and the key people behind them.


This article is a good reminder than SEL is part of a wider movement to teach skills that matter beyond academics, and semantics should not limit the understanding and teaching of these skills. It is meant to be a conversation starter- what do YOU call these skills?


nprEd is a section of npr (National Public Radio station) dedicated to issues in education.