What Students Can Do with What They Know
Andreas Schleicher recently said, “Societies reward individuals not for what they know, but for what they can do with what they know.” Information is now easier than ever to access, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t have to learn any of it. I think people will actually end up with more content knowledge due to the removal of barriers and ‘what they know’ will increase, but what will continue to differentiate us, will still be the ability to apply what we know. Furthermore, in What Students Need to Know I also discussed some of Andreas Schleicher’s commentary regarding the 2012 PISA Results, focusing on content knowledge. Let’s look at the application of that content knowledge; the element that makes a person more sought after and therefore more employable.
I consider Mathematics and English as essential, but so to are other subjects that would be desirable for a global strategy role.
History is still useful, even in an increasingly digitised and fast-paced world, but life is not a quiz show, and there is little value in simply rhyming off historic facts. However, knowledge of European colonisation, and the understanding of the political and social environment that this left behind in many countries, when applied to a business decisions, is valuable.
Geography is valuable, but again, simply listing facts is not enough. However, if a particular market is prone to natural disasters, this content knowledge when applied to a business decisions is valuable.
Religious Education still has a part to play, especially in an increasingly global market. The knowledge and understanding of beliefs and customs, when applied to a business decisions, is valuable.
This considers just three subjects, but I could carry on and cover all the subjects. That would make for quite a long and one-dimensional article, and hopefully the point I am making is already clear. What is probably more worthy of column inches is where multiple subjects combine and the application of that content knowledge has to take into account some or all of those subjects—dealing with conflicts and compromise appropriately; this is really valuable!
This all sounds obvious and it probably is but many of us remember exams that simply tested content knowledge with no application, or only application to just a very narrow problem. Hopefully, this either has changed already, or is changing.
In the Charted Institute of Management Accountants ACMA qualification, the final level Case Study is a perfect example of this working in practice, potentially calling on anything and everything in the 15 previous modules and forcing you to apply it to a scenario. Some people struggle with this paper where they have excelled in other papers. Maybe this illustrates what Andreas Schleicher is talking about.
I now understand the content knowledge I require from a candidate, and the value of being able to apply that knowledge. I also see that content knowledge cannot be limited to formal exams and qualifications alone. I also feel better placed to give more appropriate career advice, especially to my niece, who after all, was the main reason I considered writing on this subject in more detail. This awareness of other issues that you might not have considered should result in a better outcome for you as a boss, your employer and those of whom you recruit. That surely has to be worth a manager’s time, as well as some education time in order to get students to where they can use what they know with purpose.
About the author: Iain Home is a UK father, student of education trends, and an international marketing strategist for Promethean. Iain is also a regular columnist at Connect Learning Today.