More on UNESCO competencies

Posted in: Comment, New Publications

I wrote the other day about UNESCOs latest and rather surreal publication on learning outcomes.

The whole thing is couched in the language of competencies, as is rather too-Germanic for my taste (that is not a political judgement).  This seems a key passage:

There is general agreement that sustainability citizens need to have certain key competencies that allow them to engage constructively and responsibly with today’s world.  Competencies describe the specific attributes individuals need for action and self-organization in various complex contexts and situations. They include cognitive, affective, volitional and motivational elements; hence they are an interplay of knowledge, capacities and skills, motives and affective dispositions. Competencies cannot be taught, but have to be developed by the learners themselves. They are acquired during action, on the basis of experience and reflection (UNESCO, 2015; Weinert, 2001).  Key competencies represent cross-cutting competencies that are necessary for all learners of all ages worldwide (developed at different age-appropriate levels).  Key competencies can be understood as transversal, multifunctional and context-independent. They do not replace specific competencies necessary for successful action in certain situations and contexts, but they encompass these and are more broadly focused (Rychen, 2003; Weinert, 2001).  The following key competencies are generally seen as crucial to advance sustainable development (see de Haan, 2010; Rieckmann, 2012; Wiek et al., 2011).

  • Systems thinking competency
  • Anticipatory competency
  • Normative competency
  • Strategic competency
  • Collaboration competency
  • Critical thinking competency
  • Self-awareness competency
  • Integrated problem-solving competency

Whilst I wonder what happened to bildungs kompetence which seemed all the rage a few years ago, this exhausting list also misses out what, for me, has to be the most important  competency: Competency competency, without which you cannot be competent at handling competency – if you see what I mean.

Posted in: Comment, New Publications


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