Young people need to acquire both competencies and capabilities if they are to be successful entering a rapidly changing world of work and life. Competency is the proven ability in acquiring knowledge and skills, while capability is learner confidence in his or her competency and, as a result, the ability to formulate and solve problems in both familiar, unfamiliar and changing situations. Reading the VCAA Chief Examiners reports each year in every subject, it is very apparent that learner capability is something that we can improve upon.
Capable young people exhibit the following traits: self-efficacy, in knowing how to learn and how to continuously reflect on the learning process; communication and teamwork skills, working well with others, creativity, particularly in applying competencies to new and unfamiliar situations and by being adaptable and flexible in approach.
In a heutagogical approach to teaching and learning, learners are highly autonomous and self-determined and emphasis is placed on development of learner capacity and capability with the goal of producing learners who are well-prepared for the complexities of a changing world. They are able to deal with uncertainties because they have been given the opportunity to be self-directed, autonomous and independent and are encouraged to learn by doing, to take risks, make mistakes and embrace failures. Discipline becomes more about self-discipline than classroom management techniques.
The rapidly changing, multi-disciplinary nature of the 21st century requires us to move beyond our own subject areas and see this challenge as one of agency and personal empowerment. Engineering and art have always been interrelated but perhaps even more so now. Computer programming in University is mandatory for most biologists, musicians and historians. Mathematicians, statisticians and scientists primary intellectual tool is now that of the computer. Robotics and automation will transform and revolutionize the way many disciplines and businesses operate. 3D printers are now a mainstream tool for Dentists, Prosthetists and many other medical professionals. The world has changed. We can do our children no better service than to introduce them to these powerful ideas that will develop their capabilities and shape the rest of their lives.
An in-depth knowledge, skillset and expertise of a particular specialization is still absolutely important, but increasingly major discoveries are happening at the interstices between disciplines and this requires depth in a specific field but also an ability and the capability to see and make connections more broadly.