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Book Group #1: Key Competencies for the Future, with NZCER | from 3rd October

Started by Karen Spencer 14 Sep 2014 12:48pm () Replies (36)

NZCER Key CompetenciesWe are delighted that NZCER will be hosting the first NZ Book Group in Connected Educator Month this year.

The new publication, Key Competencies for the Future, will be spotlighted through webinars and online discussions. This is a wonderful opportunity for educators across New Zealand and beyond to come together online to talk to the authors and explore the themes in the book. Join Sally Boyd, Rose Hipkins, Rachel Bolstad and Sue McDowall as they share their thoughts on this popular new publication.

Recordings from the Book Group


Meanwhile, check out this video in which the authors, Sally Boyd, Rose Hipkins, Rachel Bolstad and Sue McDowall, talk about what some of their values are and how these values helped frame the discussions in their new book:



M logoBrought to you with the support of Microsoft, our National Connector partner.


  • Rachel Bolstad (View all users posts) 05 Oct 2014 10:04am ()

    So, as I said in the webinar, this theme is probably the most mind-stretching one in our book but if you have read it already, you'll know that we quite like to jump in at the deep end and encourage others to do so too!

    One of the big ideas in the book that we experimented with was this - how can we construct a plausible "line of sight" between some of the complex real-world challenges facing our societies, and the everyday learning and teaching opportunities that could support young people to develop and express the kinds of competencies that would be necessary to effectively engage with complex challenges? This is an idea that I'm very interested in - as school learners we're always told that what we learn will be useful for us in the future, but is this really true - are school learning opportunities intentionally designed with futures in mind, and if so, what notions of the future underpin our educational planning and design? 

    In Chapter 2 of the book we explain how we used the idea of wicked problems almost as a thought experiment in how we might link our own understanding of key competencies, and the conditions that can effectively scaffold students' learning opportunities, to a wider view of the world and the big issues of our time and the possible futures that will result from "our" (humanity's) decisions and actions in relation to issues like these. How "we" deal with these challenges will be part of what determines the kinds of futures that we and our young people will face.

    Is your mind feeling stretched already?

    One of the most common questions we get is "well what does this look like in a classroom [like mine]?". This is why we put in a diverse range of examples from practice in the book - but perhaps you still can't connect these examples with your own context? This is the tricky part - there are so many possible ways teachers could work with these kinds of ideas in relation to their discipline, or in relation to the particular students or community they work with. I am certain there are some really interesting examples out there waiting to be shared - so if you can tell us what you are doing or trying we will all be the more enriched by our discussions around this book!

    In the webinar I pointed to Steve's blog and Reid's blog as an examples of a secondary and primary teacher respectively mulling over some of these ideas about wicked problems as a frame for learning design. I really encourage people to read these and hopefully we might get to hear more from them at the wrap-up webinar on Oct 23rd!

    In the opening webinar someone asked a question along the lines of - these ideas are so big, where do we start? My answer for things that are very hard and you don't know where to start (this is basically my life every day, so I do honestly know how it feels) is to just start somewhere, and start talking about it.

    So - where are you starting?


  • Rachel Bolstad (View all users posts) 06 Oct 2014 7:56am ()

    Look forward to hearing more Kerri. We once asked these questions with a couple of groups of year 9 and 10 students at two schools, as described in this report. At that time we were specifically interested in how to engage students in thinking about curriculum (where does it come from, who shapes it) and how ideas and practices in schooling change over time. One idea they came up with was to interview a peer, a parent, and themselves about school in the past (how did it used to be), how it is now (what do each of those people think is different about school compared to in their parent's or grandparents' time), and how does each think it might be in the future. That project also culminated in the students presenting their work to staff meetings and/or to evenings where parents and staff were invited to hear what the students had been doing. The project gave us some useful insights into working with students around these sorts of questions, as well as challenging us to think hard about our own purposes/agenda for doing so! 

  • Rachel Bolstad (View all users posts) 06 Oct 2014 9:50pm ()

    Thanks for those links and stories Anne! I can definitely relate on a personal note to your first para because I was one of those kids when I was at school. Learning more "about" the world and its challenges nearly had me abandoning all hope for the planet and the human species by my late teens - true story! It's easy to feel overwhelmed and I can tell you for sure I held on to the depressing facts long after "the unit", like some of your students. I think it's so important to build young people's sense of hope and power in their ability to get involved even if in a small way. Keri Facer talks about the idea of "educated hope" or "non-stupid optimism" - I think we all need some of that in order to take on the hard stuff and not be defeated by it. 

  • Rachel Bolstad (View all users posts) 09 Oct 2014 7:38am ()

    Quiet week so far - I'm wondering who else will jump in and join the conversation? Hello to all of you book-groupers who might be at ULearn this week - if you are, go say hi to the friendly folks at the NZCER booth. Key Competencies For The Future is of course available there too. 

  • Rachel Bolstad (View all users posts) 14 Oct 2014 10:03pm ()

    Janet I hope you can get hold of a copy! Picking up on your point, I am interested in people's thoughts on the point you made that even though you were exploring new approaches and practices your colleagues "weren't ready to follow".  A whole-school approach and perhaps a sense of an environment where it is OK to take "risks" and try new things (and learn from what goes well and what doesn't go well) could be a start - what else is needed, do you think?

  • Rachel Bolstad (View all users posts) 14 Oct 2014 10:09pm ()

    I'm going to see if Rose Hipkins can pick up on your question Paul!

  • Rachel Bolstad (View all users posts) 14 Oct 2014 10:21pm ()

    Cool Steph, you are a speedy reader! I'm a big fan of finding a good question. Actually most of the time as a researcher my marker of success is not about finding answers to the original question, it's about finding (a) better question(s) to ask. Sometimes it takes a while to get past the obvious or easy or conventional questions in order to find the really good questions - the ones that call on us to challenge certain assumptions that we're working with and don't think to question at first because the assumptions are invisible to us  - until we hit on those questions that unsettle them...



  • Rachel Bolstad (View all users posts) 15 Oct 2014 6:42pm ()

    Hi Rose and Paul, this reminds me of a FANTASTIC question that Ray Burkhill dropped in around the 56-minute mark in the opening webinar for this book club chat 

    Ray Burkhill: Does there need to be some sort of measurable outcome to the KCs or is it enough to design a learning experience where the KCs can be expressed?

    What a great question!!!!!! Does anyone want to weigh in??

  • Rachel Bolstad (View all users posts) 16 Oct 2014 11:17am ()

    "designed, everything is designed" - I love that. That's the kind of transformative learning experience that I think we should all be constantly searching for both for ourselves and the learners we work with. It's these sorts of moments where we - or students - can suddenly "step out of the matrix" and see the world in a different way - these moments are so powerful. Of course, stepping out of the matrix can be both emancipating and terrifying - and it's remarkably easy to slip back into the matrix if we can't find the support of like minds and new opportunities that let us work with our newfound realisations in ways that keep building and transforming us and our abilities to act on the world to transform it. I have probably overworked the matrix metaphor here but I do remember when I watched that film, I did think a lot about whether I would rather be out of the Matrix with Neo, or safely tucked away in ignorant bliss plugged inside the matrix in my warm bath...!! That nice warm bath has a lot of appeal sometimes...

  • Rachel Bolstad (View all users posts) 16 Oct 2014 5:01pm ()

    Camilla and Paul and Terry - and everyone else for that matter - I thoroughly recommend this documentary - "The Human Scale"  I saw it over a year ago and still think and talk about it frequently! Friends tell me this one, "Urbanised" is even better, though I haven't managed to watch it myself yet. 

    Camilla you are making me think about a story I read from an ICTPD cluster - a project that Rob and Sandie Haddock from Tahuna School wrote about in 2009-2011 called "Little boxes" - I have always been very interested in this story. Rob and Sandie if you are out there it would be great to hear from you!

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