Five Essential Skills
Sarah O'Neill

Young people have within them the power to change the world. 

Tilton School teachers are dedicated to helping students build their own skill set from the daily practice of five essential skills and habits. Through this practice, students are navigated to lead change and make a difference in the world around them.

Critical Thinking / Decision Making

The decision-making process is a recurring part of life, day in and day out. It is a key part of problem-solving, in or out of the classroom. Critical thinking helps with decision making and problem-solving by enabling an objective look at and evaluation of information. Basically, it's a guide to thinking over several options clearly and deciding on the best choice. Proof that the decision made is a sound one is the critical thinking process in itself.

Innovation and Design Thinking

While design thinking is often thought to be used solely in the arts, expanding this process to all areas of education and life is beneficial. Why, you ask? Design thinking is not focused on the problem, it is focused on the solution. Along with innovation, the process draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning to explore possible outcomes and to create one that is both desired and beneficial. The opposite of critical thinking, which breaks ideas down, is design thinking, which builds ideas up. 

Creative Engagement

Pablo Picasso once said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” We are all born with creativity. This defines both designated forms of the arts — dance, music, visual — and the general creativity of life. Creative engagement creates room for anyone to value an “artistic” endeavor, opening up a robust sense of self in community. 


Perhaps one of the most essential skills in today’s world is communication. This is one of the most sought after quality in today’s competitive world. Reading, writing, and listening with intent are the three most important skills for students. These skills, like most communication skills, carry on throughout one's professional and personal life. 


Paying attention to the present moment with openness and curiosity enhances a desire to learn. With mindfulness, students are more focused and more engaged. Mindfulness can be formal, like meditation, or informal, like directing 100% of your attention to a daily task.

By targeting these skills and habits of the 21st-century leader, the Tilton School Mastery Approach builds self-directed learners. Students leave the Hill confident in their abilities, enthusiastic about their own growth, and eager to engage in the life of their community!


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