Got an email today from Futurelab…
A new report published by Futurelab, commissioned by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, seeks to address the challenge of finding ways of understanding, valuing and supporting initiatives that develop the skills and competencies young people need to survive and flourish in today’s society, in ways which both acknowledge their diversity and which enable children, parents, teachers, policy makers and others to develop a shared language for talking about and developing ’21st century skills’.
You can get the report here. I’ve not had time to read the 89 page report yet (!), but my internal struggle over a lot of ’21st century skills’ type discussions is what appears to me to be the de-valuation of knowledge. Being able to learn or find stuff out or argue about stuff is generally still valued, but knowledge is not. This is kind of skewed in that without a base of knowledge to work from how can a person make sensible choices about what to learn; or how to evaluate differing sources of information; or argue sensibly about anything. Anyway, this is something I plan to revisit. So maybe I should read the report and see if that helps!
Another issue I have with some ideas about schooling in the 21st C is with putting student choice above all else. Not because students shouldn’t have input into their learning, but because without guidance, support and some knowledge to lead this process they might well make some very bad choices. To some extent it could be argued that the large numbers of students in the UK opting out of maths, physics or anything else seen as ‘hard’ is indicative of where this would lead. And this is acknowledged in the Futurelab report, which highlights the conflicting issues here:
An overemphasis on external/national standards is seen to reduce motivation and engagement with learning, while an overemphasis on personal goals may reduce horizons and aspirations. (Page 3)
I’m afraid that that’s about as far as I’ve got in the report.