A Competency Model for Lifelong Learning

Half an Hour: Things You Really Need to Learn

One of the key objectives of our adult education course is to develop and refine our long-term competency models of what it means to be adult learners. (The best way to think of this particular class is through the principle of recursion: a group of adult learners, learning to think more creatively and critically about how adults learn to be more effective in managing their own learning .) The competency model is the long term vision; one student nailed the concept in this way:

but I am trying to think of this in terms of what you said last night – that we are trying to develop a large number of competencies, and they are not all going to happen at once, but that we can create learning experiences to take them on a few at a time, so that over the course of a lifetime, we can become exceptionally competent.

I clipped this list from Stephen Downes earlier in the semester, and I think it’s really worth going back to. Stephen was responding to a post by Guy Kawasaki which included suggestions like learning “how to write five sentence emails, create powerpoint slides, and survive boring meetings”. Stephen’s list was much more appropriate adult and lifelong learners:

This is, in my view, what you need to learn in order to be successful. Moreover, it is something you can start to learn this year, no matter what grade you’re in, no matter how old you are. I could obviously write much more on each of these topics. But take this as a starting point, follow the suggestions, and learn the rest for yourself. And to educators, I ask, if you are not teaching these things in your classes, why are you not?

Some of the items on the list are things that most courses don’t begin to address, but that are crucial to successful lifelong learning. (The comments to the post are worth a read as well.)

  1. How to predict consequences
  2. How to empathize
  3. How to be creative
  4. How to Learn

Not a bad long term competency model for the 21st Century.

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