Sunday, July 5, 2009

Key Competencies

The Ministry of Education has launched a
new web site dealing with the "key competencies" as outlined in our new curriculum documents. "Key competencies matter because things have changed" says the first line or so of the "Why are key competencies important". What I found interesting though was the short into video by Karen Sewell, our Secretary for Education. In this she alludes to many of the issues raised in the original (and many versions since) of Karl Fisch's "Shift Happens".
Why do I find this interesting? Well, I guess two apsects to this.
1) it gives credence to Karl's work and
2) if the Secretary of Education is making these noises, then maybe, just maybe, the messages are slowly getting through.
We are at the "mother of all inflexion points" that Tom Friedman talks about in his "The World is Flat". In Papert language, we are in the stages of fundamental change ... it's just that we don't often talk enough about just what constitutes fundamental as far as what we teach and what we learn.

Just in case anyone reads this and are not from NZ, the NZ key competencies are:

1. Thinking
2. Using language, symbols and text.
3. Managing self.
4. Relating to others.
5. Participating and contributing.

At first glance I like what the site is trying to do - provide information and support for teachers (and leaders) trying to implement the new curriculum, and build in the KC's to classroom activities. The following is a snap from the page exploring what the KCs might look like in teaching.

The highlight is mine - the teaching profession in our country is aging, and for a good number I wonder just how long it will take them to adopt these two "fundamental" changes in the classroom practice. Over the coming months we have the opportunity to really try and make a difference in education in our school and in NZ I suppose. I hope we are up to it.

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