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OECD: education not principally about subject knowledge

Andreas Schleicher, the OECD Education Directorate, on how educational success is not about knowledge, but about ability to apply knowledge to novel situations. 

The problem is, as he points out, that the knowledge and skills favoured by the school system, the routine cognitive skills – easy to teach and easy to test – are also those which are easy to outsource and automate. Much more valuable is creative and critical problem-solving ability and decision making. Education needs to support and teach communicative and collaborative ways of working, the ability to use modern digital tools.

“And last but not least, education is about the capacity to live in a multi-faceted world as an active and engaged citizen. These citizens influence what they want to learn and how they want to learn it, and it is this that shapes the role of educators.”

In the past working in distinct subject areas made some sense but knowledge is advanced by combining and being inspired by different disciplines and topics. We need to be open minded and able to see connections between different, apparently unrelated, areas to be able to move forward.

“Yet most countries, with the possible exception of the Nordic countries, provide few incentives for students to learn and teachers to teach across disciplines.”

Read it in full: The case for 21st-century learning (OECD)

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