Knowledge, Skills, Values and Attitudes For The Next Generation

Oct 30, 2018

By Lorne Schmidt, Secondary Principal

Designers of educational programmes are always in a difficult position when it comes to predicting the skills, attitudes, values and content knowledge that primary and secondary aged students will be in most need of in their adult life. At the turn of the millenium and to this day, the buzz-word we hear is ‘21st century skills’ which include: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication (Applied Educational Systems). There has been a shift in education toward recognizing that we should be developing these skills, but to what extent are we meeting the challenge? Has curriculum development kept pace with the changes of the 21st century?

To help determine which attributes are, and will be, most needed, educational designers often consult with corporate leaders about the attributes of ideal employees and future industry leaders. For example, in a recent survey carried out by The Bright Network, it was found that employers indicated: passion for the business, communication skills, problem solving, commercial awareness, resilience and teamwork as the top 6 attributes they look for when hiring employees ("What Employers Really Look For In Candidates").

The International Baccalaureate [IB] has developed the IB Learner Profile, which describes the personal characteristics of an IB educated student. Terms like: knowledgeable, inquirer, caring, communicator, reflective and principled are included in their list of 10 attributes ("Learner Profile For IB Students | International Baccalaureate®"). The IB has also developed a list of ‘Approaches to Learning’. They describe aspects that IB students should be developing within their school programme experience. Concepts include: thinking skills, social skills, communication skills research skills and self-management skills ("Approaches To Learning").

The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada [CEMC] have developed a list of ‘Global Competencies’, a list that describes the skills, attitudes and knowledge that should be developed in Canadian students to ensure they are prepared for the future. The list includes:

The lists produced by these four different organizations (Applied Educational Systems, Bright Network, IB, CEMC) have many commonalities. It is interesting to note that subject-specific content knowledge does not appear to highlight prominently in these lists. Rather, they all promote the idea that educational experiences need to go far beyond mastery of content knowledge and extend to developing personal attitudes and approaches to learning in an interconnected environment.

If we hope to best prepare our students for the future, our approaches toward designing curricular content and delivery need to be examined in the context of meeting these competencies/attributes. Typically, in practice, assessment drives curricular implementation. Therefore, if curriculum design is to fully address these competencies/attributes, assessment practices need to incorporate these aspects within the assessment regime.

Questions that arise in my mind as secondary school principal and for our teachers:

Works cited:

Applied Educational Systems, Inc. "What Are 21St Century Skills?". Aeseducation.Com, 2018, Accessed 11 Oct 2018.

"Approaches To Learning". Taolearn.Com, 2018, Accessed 10 Oct 2018.

"Council Of Ministers Of Education, Canada > Programs & Initiatives > Elementary-Secondary Education > Global Competencies". CMEC, 2018, Accessed 10 Oct 2018.

"Learner Profile For IB Students”. International Baccalaureate®, 2018, Accessed 10 Oct 2018.

"What Employers Really Look For In Candidates". Brightnetwork.Co.Uk, 2018, Accessed 10 Oct 2018.

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