29 Sep

According to Robert Swartz, a member of the International Standing Committee of the ICOT, rote learning does not create thinking or knowledge. Learning should be active, based on explorative and communicative processes in which the student enriches his mind with the thinking of their peers. This requires a profound methodological change teachers.

Also, Rosemary Hipkins, a Speaker at the ICOT 2015 and head of the Council for Educational Research in New Zealand and an expert on core competencies OECD,
notes that the conceptual knowledge of the curriculum does not have an analytical approach to fully understand the concepts but to make students learn more easily and transmit the knowledge . However, this does not mean that students learn.



#1 Relationships between concepts and competenciesRosemary Hipkins 2014-10-07 10:06
I would like to expand the point a little.

Memorising per se isn’t enough to make new ideas useful and used. Memorising can be helpful (I think we have to be careful not to pose learning challenges in terms of ‘either this or that’). But memorising isn’t the same as understanding. Nor does it tell us what students will be capable of doing - actions are a missing piece of the learning puzzle.

Dispositions are a second really important missing piece. Just knowing things (or knowing how to do things) doesn’t mean that we will use this knowledge in relevant ways.We have to want to make the effort, take the risks etc.

I see the key competencies as one way to ensure we do take account of the whole learning puzzle. OECD defined them as COMBINATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, ATTITUDES AND VALUES NEEDED FOR ACTION.This definition reminds us of the need to bring all the pieces together in meaningful learning contexts. This is their curriculum value and they should change the curriculum rather than simply add to it.

However, building purposeful and strategic combinations of traditional concepts and these additional dimensions, especially dispositions, is easier said than done. We’ve been doing some work in this area to support the science curriculum in New Zealand. In our national curriculum key competencies are defined as “capabilities for living and lifelong learning”. This implies that we need to ask what learning science will add to students’ lives. What do we want them to be capable of, and why? YOU CAN READ MORE ABOUT THIS WORK HERE.

The very act of naming a small set of competencies runs the risk of conveying a misleading simplicity. Some teachers will say “we already do that” – or they will treat the competencies as personality traits that students bring to learning ready-made. Responding in either of these ways misses the point that all dimensions of competencies are learnable, given the right sorts of learning experiences and support. I really like the way Bill Lucas, Guy Claxton and Ellen Spencer tackled this challenge in their RECENT PROJECT THAT EXPLORED WAYS TO ASSESS CREATIVITY. They identified five sets of dispositions that students need to bring to acts of creativity in their learning. Their emphasis on formative assessment specifically challenged teachers to share these ideas about creatively with their students. Then students know what they can aim to improve and develop. That’s exactly how key competences should be treated too.

In fact, looking at Lucas et al’sdescription s for these dispositions, I could easily see how they might map back to the broader concept of key competencies. I could also see that, with just a wee twist in their definitions, they could apply to other learning challenges as well. Developing systems thinking is one specific challenge I have in mind. In our RECENT BOOK my NZCER team identified systems thinking as an important competency for students’ futures – one that requires a specific combination of critical and creative thinking. I’m planning to unpack this idea at a workshop during ICOT 2015. I’m really looking forward to continuing these conversations.

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