George Lucas Educational Foundation

key competencies for the 21st century

key competencies for the 21st century

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Hi I am a Resource Teacher:Learning & Behaviour in New Zealand. A new national school curriculum has been introduced into schools this year. A key feature of this is the Key Competencies. These have come from the OECD Defining and Selecting Key Competencies project and in the NZ curriculum have been defined as Thinking, Using language symbols and text, Relating to others, Managing self and Participating and contributing. I'm aware that other countries are also developing in similar directions so would be interested in hearing what is happening elsewhere. Brenda

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Joe Beckmann's picture
Joe Beckmann
Retired teacher educator - UMass, EDC, various school systems

It's interesting that your Key Competencies are so ... pedestrian. I would have hoped they might have reflected more of John Hattie's higher order thinking - self-assessment, Piaget, micro teaching, behavioral models, clarity, reciprocal teaching, etc. Or that they might reflect what we're considering, here, which is how to adapt Bob Sternberg's model - at Yale and Tufts - of Wisdom, Intelligence, Creativity, and Success (or Synergy, depending on the draft of the model), to a set of rubrics with which kids and parents and others can assess portfolio problem solving.

This kind of a paradigm doesn't conflict with older, academic standards driven tests, but it sure gives a better picture of a kids' capacity for college, jobs, career and success. And it develops the kind of self-assessment critical to continuous improvement.

Several people have suggested to me that Hattie's model ignores issues of "critical thinking," for example, since he was so focused on institutional issues and standards evaluation. I think his approach is a nice complement, however, to Jay Smink's parallel "Meta Analysis" that highlights many of the same features of school failure - retention in grade for example - and suggests more pro-active assessment as diagnostic and treatment oriented. Smink's focus, to reduce dropout behavior, is both an interesting tool to re-assess assessments and a positive, treatment oriented technique to extract from any data critical resources to prevent failure.

Is that what you mean by "key competencies?"

Brenda Martin's picture
Brenda Martin
Resource Teacher: Learning & Behaviour in New Zealand

Hi Joe
Rather than pedestrian, I think our key competencies are broad based and that many of the ideas in your first paragraph will fit within them. The idea was to have five key areas that could then be broken down in more detail. Schools are in the process of 'unpacking' the key competencies to see how they relate to their school community and students. This gives teachers and students ownership of them and hopefully makes them more meaningful and relevant. As I said above they are based on the work of the OECD working party so they do not have a solely NZ focus. My impression, when I heard John Hattie recently, was that he was in full support of the key competency focus and that his ideas on assessment sit comfortable alongside them ie assessment for better learning. Perhaps I should make it clear that the key competencies are just a part of the curriculum there is also a focus on values and the academic curriculum. The hope is that as Guy Claxton says we can exercise and expand the brain rather than fill the bucket with curriculum content.

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