A recent article on KUNC http://www.kunc.org/post/non-academic-skills-are-key-success-what-should-we-call-them suggested that all nonacademic learning needed another encompassing name and suggested relatively meaningless acronyms like Gri-Grow-Sess or N-COG might be options in the future. Referencing part of this article: There's a lot of different terms floating around but also a lack of agreement on what really is most important to students.
As Noah Webster, the great American lexicographer and educator, put it back in 1788, "The virtues of men are of more consequence to society than their abilities; and for this reason, the heart should be cultivated with more assiduity than the head."
Character education has a long history in the U.S., with a major vogue in the 1930s and a revival in the 1980s and 1990s. Beginning a few years ago, the KIPP charter schools in New York City started to emphasize a curriculum of seven "character strengths": grit, zest, optimism, self-control, gratitude, social intelligence and curiosity. "We're not religious, we're not talking about ethics, we're not going to give any kind of doctrine about what is right from wrong," says Leyla Bravo-Willey of KIPP Infinity in Harlem. "But there are some fundamental things that make people really great citizens, which usually include being kind." West argues that the use of "character" is inappropriate in research and policymaking because of its moral and religious connotations.” West notes that there is a tension with the notion of character, which often “implies something being good in and of itself—which often includes some notion of self-sacrifice.”
The word character comes from the Greek kharakter, meaning an "engraved mark" which is extended by metaphor to mean a defining quality or sum of qualities of a person. (Ref. http:etymonline.com). Character seems like a good word to define a person's expression of honesty, kindness, respect, responsibility, perseverance, integrity--which are all critical bits of trustworthiness in life. These qualities are necessary in our communities, relationships, and world. Some notion of sacrifice of self-interest, selfishness, and self-focus does build room to be conscious and concerned and act for others. Without such things defined and taught and appreciated through shared stories for example, we are leaving a critical gap.
Other skills like being able to converse, write a letter, organize time, commit to growth, being creative, using media well, are distinct from deep defining character. Complicated acronyms might obscure rather than clarify. The terms character and skills make sense for attention and driving improvement.