Presentation on theme: "Generic Skills: Three problems that explain why implementation fails Geof Hawke OVAL Research, UTS."— Presentation transcript:
Generic Skills: Three problems that explain why implementation fails Geof Hawke OVAL Research, UTS
A brief Australian history ACTRAC Common core curriculum Mayer “Key Competencies” Mayer competencies + 1 ? Generic skills Employability skills
International models SCANS Workplace Know-how in the US Two different models in Canada: Employability Skills and Essential Skills Three approaches in the UK : Core Skills and Key Skills Main Key Skills + Wider Key Skills Key Competencies in Europe Essential Skills in New Zealand
The conceptual problem I want to suggest that all these ideas have developed around important conceptual problems. In particular: They are based on a false dichotomy They confuse different categories of things They draw heavily on unstated and unclear cultural, philosophical and political assumptions
1. The duality error The notion is constructed upon the assumption that there are “generic skills” and “other skills” (usually understood as somehow specific, technical skills). Rather, I contend that “genericness” is best understood as representing a continuum along which we might usefully recognise some categories.
2. Category Confusion Two types of category confusion apply in all or most of these approaches: The confusion of the general with the particular The confusion of things such as “attributes” with things such as “skill”
2(a). General versus Particular When we talk about, say, “communications skills” as if it was the same kind of thing as the many and varied instances that we recognise as examples of it, we commit a common logical error. For a “class” to have a useful meaning there must be some set of “rules” that define which instances are members
3. The mis-specification error If the notion of “generic skills” is such a useful one, a key question must be not “why the various models share so many similarities?” but “why are they so different?” I argue that a central factor in these differences are the various cultural, political and philosophical assumptions that have shaped them.
What we mean by “generic skills” A set of “skills” that: Applies broadly across contexts Remains essentially the same across contexts Underpins performance in different contexts “Transfer” from one context to another
Why this matters The false dichotomy means that the “things” we try to measure or report on are actually mixtures of things, some generalisations of others The category confusion means that we try to apply standards of, e.g. certainty, to abstact concepts that don’t admit to certainty
Why this matters If we do not acknowledge the underpinning assumptions of a system, we cannot understand when it fails or proves inadequate
What might this mean? It doesn’t mean that there is no value in talking about “generic skills”. It does mean that there are limitations or constraints on what such a system or idea might be capable of offering. In particular, abstract generalisations are most often useful as frameworks for policy or practice, not as outcomes to be achieved.