Thursday, October 22, 2009
Future competencies - beyond the 3Rs!
The universe is continually evolving - as are societies and individuals.
Our populist government is rushing ahead to return us to the limitations of a Victorian education system.This is not to say literacy and numeracy are not important, they obviously are, but they are at best 'foundation skills' for more expansive learning competencies.
And if the government's intention is to find out, and focus on, those students who are falling behind ( the so called 'achievement tail') we know where these students are already. And, as well, we have very efficient national monitoring systems in place to uncover areas of weaknesses across the system.
It all boils down to simplistic political promises and tapping into, or creating, parent worries without any appreciation of the success, or otherwise, of national national standards ( testing) in other countries.
What we need as a country, if we are to thrive in these challenging times, is to develop the talents of every student in the school system. If we have a problem it is one children disengaging from learning ; the real problem is one of motivation - of providing exciting programmes across the curriculum . And these programmes need exciting and realistic literacy and numeracy programmes.
It was interesting to read future competencies as outlined by a professor from the Harvard Graduate School of Education .The professor identified five core competencies we should be helping our students acquire.
First is the ability to manage ambiguity. Managing ambiguity is the tension between rushing in to take the first thought that come to mind and, instead, manage or live with the ambiguity. Creative people can cope with messy situations without falling apart .
The second is for learners to take responsibility for their own actions.We need to develop students with the attitude that they have the ability to deal with it.
The third is finding and sustaining community.This competency is about connecting and interacting.About maintaining community and maintaining links with people. This is about recognizing that we are part of a larger community , not just our own private world.
The fourth is managing emotions. This means getting away from the idea that emotions and reason are separate; that they work in combination.
And finally managing technological change - learning to use the new tools to change the ways we do things.
These all sound very much like the Key Competencies of our new curriculum!
As Guy Claxton , the English educator has written, 'learnacy is more important that literacy and numeracy. Resilience , he writes , is an important part of all learning.
How we achieve such things with the national standards in literacy and numeracy is beyond me. It is ironic that, just as our school have been given a 21st Century new curriculum , the new government seem to want to drag us back to the past.
We live in strange times.