15 October 2012

Thinking and Deeper Learning


As I was reading a recent paper from the USA on the need for developing 21st century competencies, I came across this interesting diagram. It describes the interplay of capabilities needed for what is becoming known as deeper learning. 

Many of competencies identified above accord with my own reading (and blogging) over the past few years. On many occasions I have had conversations with colleagues about the importance of adaptability, self-evaluation and perseverance. Just seeing them overlapping with problem solving, innovation and critical thinking, reminds me of the connections needed for deeper learning. Indeed, it indicates to us that teaching to just one aspect of the student is not enough if we are to succeed in helping them navigate the 21st century with confidence. This theory also helps to explain why some very 'bright' students - with traditionally sharp cognitive skills such as analysis - don't always succeed to the extent that intelligence testing suggests they should. 

Teachers already have altered their teaching styles towards more student-centred, competency based delivery. As an English teacher in NSW, this approach has been the mode for many years as we connect literacy and literature to help students achieve their cognitive, interpersonal and intrapersonal goals.

I'm also pleased to see the new Australian Curriculum broaden its horizons with compulsory competencies such as Critical and Creative Thinking:

"Critical thinking is at the core of most intellectual activity that involves students in learning to recognise or develop an argument, use evidence in support of that argument, draw reasoned conclusions, and use information to solve problems. Examples of thinking skills are interpreting, analysing, evaluating, explaining, sequencing, reasoning, comparing, questioning, inferring, hypothesising, appraising, testing and generalising.

Creative thinking involves students in learning to generate and apply new ideas in specific contexts, seeing existing situations in a new way, identifying alternative explanations, and seeing or making new links that generate a positive outcome."

As we come to terms with these notions of deeper learning, 21st century competencies, and critical and creative thinking, we will need more education, learning how to model and 'teach' these essential facets of life - for the here and now, and for the future.