A Competency Mindset Builds Confidence in a Changing World
10 June 2022
If our young people are to be successful in a rapidly changing world of work and life they need to acquire a combination of competencies and capabilities.
Competency is the proven ability to acquire knowledge and skills, while capability is learner confidence in his or her competency and, as a result, the ability to formulate and solve problems in familiar, unfamiliar and changing situations. In the light of this, and in reading the VCAA Chief Examiners reports each year in every subject, it is apparent that learner capability is something that we can improve upon.
Capable young people exhibit the following traits: self-efficacy, in knowing how to learn and how to continuously reflect on the learning process; communication and teamwork skills including working well with others; and creativity, particularly in applying competencies to new and unfamiliar situations and by being adaptable and flexible in approach.
In a heutagogical approach to teaching and learning, learners are highly autonomous and self-determined and emphasis is placed on development of learner capacity and capability with the goal of producing learners who are well-prepared for navigating the complexities of a changing world. They are able to deal with uncertainties because they have been given the opportunity to be self-directed, autonomous and independent and are encouraged to learn by doing, to take risks, make mistakes and embrace failures. Discipline becomes more about self-discipline than classroom management techniques.
At the same time, it is apparent that the rapidly changing, multi-disciplinary nature of the twenty-first century requires us to move beyond our own subject areas and see these exciting challenges in terms of student agency and personal empowerment. For example, engineering and art have always been interrelated but perhaps even more so now. Computer programming in university is mandatory for most biologists, musicians and historians. Mathematicians, statisticians and scientists primary intellectual tool is now that of the computer. Robotics and automation will transform and revolutionise the way many disciplines and businesses operate. 3D printers are now a mainstream tool for dentists, prosthetists and many other medical professionals. The world has changed. We can do our young people no better service than to introduce them to these powerful ideas that will develop their capabilities and shape the rest of their lives.
There is no doubt that in-depth knowledge, skillset and expertise with respect to a particular specialisation is still absolutely important, but increasingly, major discoveries are happening at the interstices between disciplines. The quest then is for our young people to gain depth in a specific field but also an ability and the capability to see and make connections more broadly. As an educator I see these challenges as fantastic opportunities for our school to continue creating and inventing, to grow our professional expertise and ensure that the young people in our care have the necessary competencies and capabilities with which to successfully navigate the challenges of today and tomorrow.