The NCER published a booklet (2006) ‘Key Competencies: Repacking the old or Creating the New.’ It is well worth a read for those who are thinking about implementing the draft NZ Curriculum .The writers make the case that the ‘key competencies’, in particular , ‘push us beyond simply refining or incrementally attempting to improve what currently we have.’
We need, the introduction states, to move beyond, ‘correcting past mistakes and attempting to improve the quality and productivity of a quasi industrial form of production in which children come in one end, are worked on by professionals and then exit at the other end with the requisite skills and qualifications’.
If it only worked for all students there would not be any urgency to change but it is becoming obvious that too many students fail –and even those that ‘succeed’ leave without all their talents appreciated.
Schools now have the opportunity to take up the challenge to ‘develop priority forms of learning and teaching in ways that deliberately integrate the key dimensions of successful delivery- curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, learner orientation and context’.
‘There is another very challenging issue to consider as well and that is the what the future might look like if the implementation of the key competencies is to lead to genuine transformation, not just the old clothes dressed up differently'.
‘Imagine a school where every child would see themselves as an investor in their own learning. Older children would frequently coach and mentor younger children. Those who were more advanced in a subject would help those lagging behind. Children would help teachers design learning programmes, their parents would be parties to these discussions .The children would see it as their responsibility to learn in their own time, often using online tools provided by the school .Although every child would have a personalized learning plan, most learning would be practiced in groups but these would not be organized into rigid year groups, class membership would be in part determined by aptitude and appetite. Instead of a rigid timetable and lessons lasting about fifty minutes, the school schedule might resemble something like a marketplace or an airport. Instead of lessons devoted to a single subject –History, then French, then Maths – more lessons would encourage children to learn multiple skills, to mix insights from different disciplines. These lessons would be led by teachers who would combine skills from different disciplines and backgrounds. The school itself would be open from early and well into the evening; it would be located with other facilities – perhaps in a shopping centre, the cultural district, or in office park. It might resemble a café more than a school. Opportunities to would be ubiquitous, any time, anywhere, using personal tablet computers and mobile phones. Learning would not just happen at special times, in special places- schools, with special people – teachers. A national curriculum setting out what everybody should learn would be too clumsy for a world in which new ideas and information would emerge the whole time via Google. Teachers would have a critical role in searching for new learning materials and guiding children to these opportunities. They would have to amend and create curriculum, not slavishly following it. Instead of exams at the end of the educational pipeline to assessing what children had learned, most assessment would take place during the course to help children learn more effectively.’
So what competencies, attributes, dispositions would we have to ensure are in place for students when they ‘graduate’ to thrive in what will be an ever changing but potentially exiting future?