Learning – 3

With an ever-changing world, the world of learning needs to adapt. But, at the same time, it is important that our qualifications are standardised for them to mean anything. A possible way forward is to introduce ‘unitisation’. (Some work on this has already began) This is where all qualifications are broken down into standardised modules which can be mixed with other standardised modules to make up a ‘personal’ qualification which helps match the requirements for a specified job more precisely. Having qualifications based on modules and not a ‘whole qualification’ means that things can be kept up to date more easily. (NVQ’s only have a shelf life of a few years). Also, it would mean that only modules where there has been significant changes need to be updated, instead of taking a ‘whole qualification’ to do so. That helps employers to become more relevant and thus competitive and employees to have more ‘saleable’ skills in an ever-changing jobs market where employment is no longer guaranteed for life.

At the moment a qualification usually only forms part of the requirements for any given job, and the applicant then has to take other qualifications to make up for the shortfall. The other issue is that employers are not very precise as to what sort of qualifications they require of their workers. Also, the needs of employers are changing at a faster rate than in the past, and thus qualifications on their own become obsolete. ‘Unitisation’ helps deal with these issues.

This ‘unitisation’ will also need to apply to degree qualifications, which often vary in quality and/or standing in the world of business.

All this would mean that current skill sector bodies having to widen participation to include universities, professional bodies as well as non-vocational groups. This last group is important as employers not only look for qualifications which demonstrate one’s skills but also for proof in such things as academic integrity, analytical capabilities, literacy and numeracy skills and abilities in communication as well as IT and social media provision.

This process could also help reduce the number of modules currently available through focusing on ‘niche’ markets that only the UK can provide in the global market. But, there still will be the need to provide ‘general’ modules to encourage studying to improve the mind and widen one’s interests as well as ones specifically to encourage research into ethics, processes and potential new ‘niche markets’. Hopefully, it will also help employers improve their job descriptions.

See: http://comment.ofqual.gov.uk/chief-regulators-report-dec-2009/section-2-maintaining-standards-in-qualifications/standards-in-unitised-qualifications/
http://www.sqa.org.uk/files_ccc/Research_Bulletin_9_Unitisation.pdf
http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/2483/1/Context_for_the_council’s_unitisation_and_credit_funding_pilot.pdf

Learning – 2

Despite what Governments and others try to do, we still seem to have problems with literacy and numeracy. Part of the problem is not integrating these essential skills with whatever is being taught at school, college and even university. Obtaining a qualification or even a good mark for an essay or a project should include marks for our literacy and numeracy abilities, shown as a separate ‘statement’, to emphasise their importance.

Also, it appears a good proportion of students, of whatever age, have issues with dyslexia and other related learning difficulties. Therefore, tests should be done each year to identify if there are such difficulties so that personalised plans can be put in place to make sure everyone has the best chance of succeeding in education. With regard to teacher training, more emphasis needs to be given to prevention work, with literacy, numeracy and learning difficulty qualifications as essentials.

For those already in work, employers can encourage Union Learning Representatives to work with them in tackling the issue by identifying ways to get everyone to obtain training in literacy and numeracy, with those who feel they don’t have problems in such areas, mentoring those that do. It helps if senior leadership take a lead in doing the tests that are already available.

All this should be promoted by everyone as part of a drive to encourage people to develop their full potential as God intended. If people are given such opportunities, this leads to more satisfied workers and increases productivity.

Obviously, there have to be the opportunities there for this to happen. To start the ball rolling, we, as a nation, need to debate what sort of jobs/careers should be promoted that are sustainable, adaptable and most of all, ethical. We also need to look at getting more businesses to become employee/customer-owned as well as being smaller, so there is a sense of responsibility and loyalty to the business.

With pension funds awash in money, they could invest in such firms, only expecting a small proportion of the profits, so as to see returns for the long-term and not just the short-term. Hopefully, as part of this change of ‘culture’, we will end up with businesses that care for their customers (with quality products at a fair price), the environment (only using renewable products and energy), the community (in involvement in its daily life, helping the less fortunate with employment and training, and using local suppliers where possible, etc) and their employees (with proper conditions of pay and work).

I am sure there is much more that can be said, but it is a start to get the debate rolling!

Learning – 1

Education is very much in the news these days with talk about qualifications, funding, quality, teachers, etc, etc.  Over a number of blogs I would like to offer my thoughts on a major re-organising of learning from birth to death.

The National Curriculum was established to provide a national standard across the country.  Unfortunately, it does not give an integrated approach across the disciplines.  To do that, we need to see a focus on values and skills in understanding, enjoying and applying across disciplines in a number of areas, and not taught as separate subjects, but all in an integrated way, and seeing things from a global perspective:

Creative – the arts, literacy skills, culinary skills, fairtrade, thinking skills, etc;

Physical – the sciences, health, sport, physical geography, etc;

Spiritual – various faiths and their beliefs, worldviews, and how they affect our understanding and practices ie ethics, vocation, etc;

Social – relationships, community and issue involvement, human geography, world history, politics, etc;

Practical – do-it-yourself, empowering others, analytical skills, debating skills, mediation skills.

This would mean a new approach to training those who mentor students.  This includes how to develop students wholistically, how to not just teach but to engender enjoyment in the disciplines, how to instruct them to develop skills to a high standard and how to team mentor and instruct.

More next time.