The Core Skills

The words are displayed on banners across both campuses,  and a diagram of the concepts hangs in each classroom next to the Ensworth Mission Statement. To collaborate, to communicate, to observe, to question, to speculate and hypothesize, to evaluate, and to apply knowledge: these are Ensworth’s Core Skills, and they guide the teaching and learning process across every discipline.
Similar to Ensworth’s Vision Statement, the Core Skills were originally developed as part of the foundation of the High School program. According to Head of High School David Morgan, the founding faculty decided the Core Skills in the manner of the Founding Fathers at the Constitutional Convention, and the group gave serious consideration to the selection of each skill, even debating whether they should be expressed as infinitives or gerunds. The Core Skills they decided upon reflected a combination of the scientific method and creative exploration in the humanities.

As noted in Ensworth’s College Profile, “the Search for Truth involves not only mastery of individual disciplines, but also the development of skills that cut across traditional disciplinary boundaries and enhance one’s continuing ability to grow and learn.” Representing a confluence of social, emotional, and academic learning, the Core Skills reflect Ensworth’s commitment to educating the whole child and preparing students for success that extends beyond test scores and grade point averages.

In the following articles, we examine the Core Skills individually and demonstrate how they are applied in different aspects of Ensworth’s programs. Then, we ask the question: what would it look like to base our assessments of students on their mastery of key skills instead of assigning letter grades to their understanding of content? Finally, we explore how students exercise the Core Skills both within our local community and across the globe through service learning and international trips.

This issue demonstrates how Core Skills inspire students to see learning opportunities in every experience and to approach these opportunities with curiosity, flexibility, respect, and confidence. With this foundation, students are equipped to continue their search for truth well beyond their time at Ensworth.
  • Marry one’s own talents, skills, and knowledge with the talents of others within a group 
  • Enhance community culture by supporting others’ achievement regardless of one’s own achievement 
  • Work as a group to create and obtain goals that would not be individually achievable
  • Build an inclusive conversation with all group members
  • Express ideas articulately, clearly, and respectfully 
  • Listen receptively without imposing assumptions 
  • Discern false assumptions 
  • Provide information concisely and effectively across a variety of modes such as auditory, written, kinesthetic and visual imagery 
  • Use disagreement in the search for truth Support or justify a position with evidence Contribute in a manner that moves previous ideas forward
  • Be alert to the achievements and contributions of others 
  • Be alert to spotting and capitalizing on the unexpected 
  • Watch for patterns 
  • Design and employ methods of collecting and recording evidence 
  • Practice the art of awareness of one’s self and surroundings
  • Discern areas that could benefit from further scrutiny 
  • Ask questions without expecting certain answers 
  • Employ questions in the search for truth 
  • Investigate diverse perspectives 
  • Learn to compose effective questions 
  • Propose possible solutions to questions 
  • Apply induction (extrapolate patterns to general rules) 
  • Enhance creativity 
  • Develop assertions that can be examined using objective criteria 
  • Practice language that infers rather than assumes, i.e. “It seems that…” 
  • Exercise self-reliance in spotting errors and correcting them 
  • Assess the validity of arguments or solutions, perhaps by using different evaluative methods 
  • Determine the relevance and value of sources 
  • Examine one’s own conclusions through the lens of another 
  • Analyze and interpret empirical data comprehensively 
  • Apply skills and knowledge to new contexts 
  • Apply deduction (apply general rules to specific instances) 
  • Exercise independence of thought rather than mimicry 
  • Be open to the possibility of more than one correct approach 
  • Translate intellectual concepts to practical applications 
  • Demonstrate resourcefulness
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