Future competences, what are they?
Some ten years ago, I had the privelage to speak to elemantary school teacher, working as a project leader for a ICT implementation project. I then asked her, what school subject would you like to introduce (and also, what to take away). She then responded, “I already know the answer, as I have had time to think about it. I would take away all school subjects, and introduce one: communication.”
What has happened since? On a global scale; very much! Many countries, many school curricula, many developmental projects, goes in exactly this direction. (Not Sweden though, as it seems. Or, put in another way; there is a great developmental potential in relation to the Swedish curricula …) Many students around the globe, now benefit from this changes, helping them meet the challenges of their current and future life-world. The 21st century skills, or whatever you want to name it. Those competences needed in the informational society.
In “Multimodality” (2009) Gunther Kress speaks about “design”, as the kind of competence needed in this and the future society. If the industrial society fostered critique as the central competence, that was what was needed in an era where knowledge already were defined by the authorities, and the kinds of skills searched for was defined by the industry. Now, Kress says, the competence needed is design. To be able to create new and novel ideas, based on a critical standpoint (hence, critique is still an important competence, but not the ultimate goal). Design being just as important in relation to thinking, as it is to the physical construction of novel things.
“Design is prospective, looking forward. Design focuses on my interests now in relation to the likely future effects of my actions. The understanding which inheres in competence was essential to out critique, just as the understanding developed through critique is essential in the practices of design. Design draws on both these, carries their insights forward and deepens them, focused in a social-semiotic theory of multimodality.” [Kress 2009:6]
I do think that there is a small step – if any – between “communication” and “design”. (Which is not to say that they are one and the same. But they are certainly closely related, inextricably intertwined, mutually dependet upon each other.) Both are based on the subjective needs of the intentional human being, and her strive for meaning-making and to build a solid base for interaction with the community. Both are, and deeply so, a giant leap from the content of the traditional school subjects. And not least, none are easily assessed by the traditional testing instruments. Rather, both are novel, innovative, creative, and deeply subjective. As each and every life, thought, and ambition is.
And it is right here, I think, that we can find the future competences; the competence of understanding oneself, the personal dreams and ambitions, and appropriating the tools needed to fulfill them. Which is communication, which is design. And this do need, with absolute certainty, that we must have a deep respect for the unique kid, for each and every pupil. We must see them as human subjects.