The core argument of AWNM is that left-brain abilities remain absolutely necessary — but that in a world of Asia, automation, and abundance, they’re no longer sufficient.  The current BusinessWeek cites new research that offers another factual brick in this wall:

 “A new study concludes that social skills can be a better predictor of future earnings than test scores are.  Christy Lleras, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign sociologist, analyzed data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988, tracking 11,000 students from 10th grade until 10 years after their high school graduation. Her work, published in September’s Social Science Research, found that pupils described by teachers as conscientious, motivated, and able to relate well to peers and adults earned an average $3200 more yearly than those with equally good test scores but poorer social skills. Lleras says many socially adept students were helped by joining in team sports or other activities. It makes sense, she says, that in a service economy, ‘people with social skills will be much better equipped to navigate.'” 

3 Responses to “Work$ and play$ well with others”

  1. Alex Hujik says:


    I heard you speak at the NAIS Conference in New York this past winter and I enjoyed reading AWNM. We have incorporated many of your ideas and thoughts into activities into my middle school history and high school summer speech courses. We are currently debating and discussing standardized tests and I think this latest research will improve the discussion. Thank you very much. Oh, the Bunko trailer is really cool, too. Book was strong as well.

    Alex Hujik

  2. Cathy says:

    Dang. I guess that means that being a nerd doesn’t mean you’ll be a wealthy nerd. I guess I shouldv’e stayed in Math and out of orchestra and band. But we don’t go into the classroom to get rich-at least not by society’s standards. Our wealth comes from knowing that, because of our influence, a whole lot of kids are going to be just fine–and thier parents might even keep them around a little longer. 🙂 Have a great day, Daniel. I’ll just stay here and wait for the next group of first graders. It’s all good.

  3. Stephen Dill says:

    I can hear all the high I’s (in the DISC personality model) cheering this summary, while the C’s grumble that the world revolves on data and details. But a quick review of this research confirms that it is balance that works in an individual’s favor. Social skills with zero talent or knowledge will not be paid, at all, much less more than peers with developed cognitive skills – or at least not for long.

    The balanced combination of intellect, knowledge (broad or specialized), experience to support a healthy level of social confidence, and a desire to keep learning will serve most people to position them well in the world. Naturally, there are a few (hundred) other factors and variables which will affect any one person’s success along their life’s path. But at the conceptual level, who is responsible for establishing these foundational essentials? Cathy above would be among the many to raise their hands saying “I am!” and I understand that. However, she and her colleagues see their charges way too late in the game, for the patterns have already been established by parents from day one (aka conception).

    And that is the weak link in the chain of events that produces the subjects in Christy LLeras’ study. For over ten years I have observed the parents of toddlers who are meeting their child’s survival needs (food, hygiene, and – hopefully – love) waiting for their children to be old enough to hand off to “a professional” to start the formal education system (i.e. pre-school). So the dice is rolled even before the child is born. Some children will be nurtured and know an openness and confidence to walk through the world because their parents did it right. Others arrive at the pre-school’s (or even worse, the elementary school’s) doors with serious anxieties and fears that can resist the best efforts of teachers to correct them.

    Daniel, why don’t we educate people to be parents as well as we train them to give birth? And why isn’t education everyone’s responsibility, both to be a student as well as a teacher throughout life? If you were given free reign to reinvent public education from scratch, with no obligation to do anything that was done before and no preconceived notions, what would it look like?

    Those questions and a few more are addressed at and I would welcome your input there.

    Stephen Dill