Knowing how to read and write is absolutely essential to interacting with the world, and research has shown that math and science skills are signi cant drivers of productivity. Recent work by economists Eric Hanushek and Ludgar Woessmann nds that if all countries possessed the skill level in these domains of Finland, often a top scorer on international exams, global economic growth could be 8.5-13.8 percent higher. But importantly the breadth of skills nec- essary to be successful today and in the future also encompasses a host of other skills and competencies, such as teamwork, collaboration, critical thinking, perseverance, communication, and so on.
A focus on breadth of skills means educating for a mastery of a wide range of competencies that will help mitigate the challenges posed by our changing world context. While many presume that there is a tension between teaching subject-speci c content and teaching other skills like self-regulation, informa- tion literacy or problem solving, they are intrinsically interconnected.
Many educationalists have supported broad aims for education. More than 100 years ago pedagogy expert John Dewey wrote that he saw an unproductive divide between what he called two “sects:” those who saw education’s purpose to focus on subject matter, and those who aimed for personality and character education to be the priority. Dewey instead argued for an approach encompassing both. Even the inventors of standardized testing, which focused on what’s known as the “cognitive” skills of literacy, numeracy, and science, intended for assessments to move toward including broader sets of skills and competencies rather than continue to assess such a narrow snapshot. In their recent book, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Golinkoff describe how breadth of skills interact and build off each other, synthesizing evidence on child development. Content is not learnable if communication skills are not in place, and critical thinking operates on content, not in a vacuum. In this way, the skills build on and reinforce one another. And any skill set proposed as a model of breadth must do the same.
To accomplish this we also need to expand our conception of where and when learning happens. As education evolved from many different models in past generations into the current model of schooling, many assume that learning, education, and school are one in the same. But children are learning all the time, and it is imperative that we broaden education to include home and community environments rather than merely formal school environments. This naturally opens up a vision of education that can encompass life-long learning, starting from early childhood through adulthood.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Skills for a Changing World: Advancing Quality Learning for Vibrant Societies