It is a person’s abilities, or competencies, that operationalize knowledge and make it useful.
B.C.’s Draft Curriculumhas two new key and interrelated parts. The first part, the “big ideas” of the curriculum, “link numerous understandings into a coherent whole.”[i] (I wrote on this topic earlier here.) As such, the big ideas frame the content and concepts students develop within and across subjects and grades. This part of the curriculum allows students to say, “I know,” or “I understand” something about a topic or idea they have studied.
The second major new part is the Core Competencies. Students rely upon and further develop Core Competencies as they acquire knowledge and develop understandings. This part of the curriculum allows students to say, “I can,” or “I am.” In previous curriculum documents what students were to be able to do was described as “skills and processes” which were subject specific. In the Draft Curriculum, subject-specific skills and processes are still identified – as Curricular Competencies – but overarching Core Competencies, which span all subjects in all grades, has been added.
The Core Competencies, the Ministry of Education asserts, “are vital to personal and social success, life-long learning, and to the changing workplace,”[ii] so a student’s development of these abilities are core to their quality of life.
So if Core Competencies are about what students can do, what should students leaving BICS after Grade Seven be able to do?
There are three Core Competencies:
“Thinking—the knowledge, skills, and processes we associate with intellectual development. It is through their competency as thinkers that students take subject-specific content and transform it into new understanding.”[iii]
This competency includes a student’s ability to be a critical thinker (inquisitive, aware of biases, honest, persistent), a creative thinker (curious, open-minded, enjoys learning and is willing to think divergently and tolerate complexity), and finally a reflective thinker (the ability to understand oneself as a learner).
“Communication—Communication competency encompasses the set of abilities that students use to impart and exchange information, experiences, and ideas, to explore the world around them, and to understand and effectively engage in the use of digital media.”[iv]
This competency goes beyond traditional understandings of literacy skills – reading and writing – and math skills. It includes exchanging information, experiences and ideas through many modes such as written language, spoken language, movement, body language, images and symbols. It also includes digital literacy, which includes accessing, evaluating, and using digital information as well as creating and using digital content in an ethical and effective way.
”Personal and Social—Personal and social competency is the set of abilities that relate to students’ identity in the world, both as individuals and as members of their community and society. Personal and social competency encompasses the abilities students need to thrive as individuals, to understand and care about themselves and others, and to find and achieve their purposes in the world. Personal and social competency is a responsibility the school system shares with families and communities.”[v]
This includes developing a sense of personal awareness and responsibility which is to understand and take responsibility for one’s actions and make constructive and ethical decisions with regards to their personal and social behaviour. Finally, it includes social awareness and responsibility which is, “the ability to cooperate and collaborate with others, empathize and appreciate the perspective of others, and create and maintain healthy relationships with one’s family, community and society.”[vi]
BICS’ School Growth Plan, described by Principal Jennifer Pardee here, explains our school’s head and heart goals which align well with the Thinking as well as Personal and Social competencies. As the Core Competencies involve all subjects and grade levels, they will likely continue to be at the heart of decision making for future school goals. Continuing with our school’s current goals as well as examining strategies and tactics that support other aspects of the competencies will be important so that all BICS students can confidently say, “I can” and “I am” to the competencies described.
The key to these competencies though is not what students can do by the end of Grade Seven because that is not where their learning ends. A more important assessment is how well prepared and interested students are for further learning; for life-long learning.
- Click here to see a narrated tour of BC’s Draft Curriculum.
- Click here for more information on Big Ideas.
[i]BC Ministry of Education, “Glossary of Terms”: https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/sites/curriculum.gov.bc.ca/files/pdf/glossary.pdf
[iii]BC Ministry of Education, “Defining Cross-Curricular Competencies”: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/irp/docs/def_xcurr_comps.pdf
[iv] BC Ministry of Education, “Defining Cross-Curricular Competencies”: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/irp/docs/def_xcurr_comps.pdf
[v] BC Ministry of Education, “Defining Cross-Curricular Competencies”: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/irp/docs/def_xcurr_comps.pdf
[vi] BC Ministry of Education, “Defining Cross-Curricular Competencies”: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/irp/docs/def_xcurr_comps.pdf