Caine & Caine (1997) explain the interconnectedness of the brain:
Caine, R. & Caine, G. (1997). Unleashing the Power of Perceptual Change: The Potential of Brain-Based Teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. pp. 6-7.
The increasing availability of digital technologies is rapidly changing the nature of learning:
“Digital technologies change the way students learn, the way teachers teach, and where and when learning takes place. Increasingly, mobile devices equip students to take charge of their own learning in a context where learning occurs anywhere, anytime, and with access to a wealth of content and interactive tools. Digital technologies can excite and engage educators, students, their whānau and communities in learning."1
An OECD report, 'Skills for a Digital World', provides new evidence on the effects of digital technologies on the demand for skills and discusses key policies to foster skills development for the digital economy:
“In addition to digital literacies and ICT-specific skills, the identification of the skills relevant for the digital economy and of the strategies to develop them is entrenched with the notions of higher order thinking, communication and social skills.” 2
"Do you ever find that young people, when they have left school, not only forget most of what they have learnt (that is only to be expected), but forget also, or betray that they have never really known, how to tackle a new subject for themselves? 1
- Dorothy Sayers 1947
LEARNING TO LEARN
One of the key elements of personalised learning is teaching students HOW to learn. 'Learning to learn' is a key component of the New Zealand Curriculum, with "complex problem solving, communication, team skills, creativity and innovation recognised as necessary skills for success." 2
The New Zealand Curriculum identifies five key competencies:
Similar key competencies are outlined in countless articles and research documents, with the focus of key competencies more recently centred on digital literacy. Eric de Corte, as quoted in The 21st Century Learning Group report (2014) identifies a number of areas in which education needs to develop in order to sufficiently prepare students for the future:
“One dimension is the need to instil creativity, collaboration, problem-solving and entrepreneurial approaches. A second is to build digital literacy and media literacy. A third is to develop ‘adaptive competence’ — the ability to apply meaningfully learned knowledge and skills flexibly and creatively in different situations.” 3
EXAMPLES OF KEY COMPETENCIES
The Four R's
In Guy Claxton's book 'Building Learning Power', he outlines four key habits of the mind that are evident in successful learners:
The Six C's
Michael Fullan and Geoff Scott (2014) propose that learning goes beyond the development of fundamental skills and knowledge, to include the development of 'personal, interpersonal and cognitive capabilities that allow one to diagnose what is going on in the complex, constantly shifting human and technical conteext of real world practice and then match an appropriate response.' 4
Their model includes 'the Six C's':
What does this mean for us?
The consensus is that we need to equip students to be able to adapt to their uncertain and everchanging future environment. Therefore, changing our emphasis in education from teaching content to teaching skills is vital. Students will need to develop skills in:
King Solomon's statement "there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9) is true for education today as we reflect on Dorothy Sayer's observations over 70 years ago:
"For the sole true end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain." 5
1 Sayers, D. (1947). The Lost Tools of Learning. Presented at Oxford. Retrieved from https://www.gbt.org/text/sayers.html
2 NZ Ministry of Education. (2015). New Zealand Education in 2025: Lifelong Learners in a Connected World [Discussion Document]. New Zealand: Author.
3 NZ Ministry of Education. (2014, May). Future-focused Learning in Connected Communities. New Zealand: 21st Century Learning Reference Group., p. 33.
4 Fullan, M. & Scott, G. (2014). Education Plus. Seattle, WA: Collaborative Impact SPC. pp.6-7
5 Sayers, D. Ibid.
Dumont et al (2012) suggest that there are two primary 'gatekeepers' to learning: Emotion and Motivation.
The first gatekeeper, the emotional state of a student, directly affects their ability to learn. If a student is engaged in learning within an environment that promotes a positive state of emotion, they will be better able to utilise long-term recall, for example. Conversely, a poor emotional state will disrupt their ability to learn or to be able to recall information from the lesson at a later time.
While the emotional state of students can depend upon factors outside of the classroom, educators can seek to provide a learning enviroment that helps facilitate a postive experience for each student and therefore increase their ability to learn.
"Like emotion, the presence of positive motivation towards a learning task markedly increases the likelihood that students will engage in deep learning"1
Dumont et al propose that the role of the teacher should include providing the time, space and support for student reflection to determine the usefulness of learning strategies, as well as to provide positive support for those students who may have had negative learning experiences. In other words, teachers need to identify students' interests and help them to foster intrinsic motivation.
The Basic Principles of Motivation2
Students are more motivated to engage in learning when they:
Students direct their attention away from learning when they experience negative emotions.
Students free up cognitive resources for learning when they are able to influence the intensity, duration and expression of their emotions.
Students are more persistent in learning when they can manage their resources and deal with obstacles efficiently.
Students are more motivated to enage in learning and use motivation regulation strategies when they perceive the environment as favourable for learning.
1 Dumont, H., Istance, D., & Benavides, F. (2012) The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice, OECD Innovative Learning Environments Project, p.4.
2 Dumont, H., Istance, D., & Benavides, F. (2010) The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice, OECD Innovative Learning Environments Project, pp.91-107.