Menu

Education Today Logo


newsletter

Education Today Cover Browse Issue

Hard message for Australians debating soft skills

News Image

Creativity, critical thinking, digital literacy, problem-solving and adaptability all fall under the umbrella of ‘capabilities’ but no matter what term is used there are increasingly louder calls for renewed focus on the area in education.

The future of work is looking decidedly different and it’s those soft skills that will give kids the ability to adapt and navigate through muddied waters.

Bill Lucas is Professor of Learning and Director of the Centre for Real-World Learning at the University of Winchester and an international adviser to the Mitchell Institute. He was recently appointed by the OECD as co-chair of the strategy group advising on the new PISA 2021 test of Creative Thinking.

Prof Lucas, says, “Capabilities are useful in education and in life, so need to be treated with the same respect that is applied to general subjects.”

“Many Australian educators have recognised capabilities for decades but the recent spotlight on this area, particularly in the wake of the Gonski Review, has caused capabilities to seem, to some, like a trending fad.

“The truth is, education has a long and wide-reaching history of growing capabilities and character in young people. They have conquered the tests of time and distance because they are incredibly valuable.

“Capabilities not only help students engage with learning, they can be the difference between simply knowing a fact or a skill and being able to use that in a job or a social setting.

“As Australia is experiencing increasing interest in this area, it is worth highlighting that there are a lot of frameworks out there addressing capabilities, and many – including Australia’s – have common features.”

While there has been growing interest in capabilities in recent years, discussions have peaked following the recent Gonski Review, which explicitly recommended for Australia to ‘strengthen the development of the general capabilities, and raise their status within curriculum delivery.’

Lucas is looking closely at how Australia’s education system can best cultivate capabilities in students of all ages to inform a Mitchell policy report that will be published later this year.


22 Feb 2019 | International
AI beating dyslexia News Image

A new piece of AI is helping to identify people with dyslexia so something can be done, the process uses statistics and and machine learning and takes only two minutes. Read More

21 Feb 2019 | Melbourne
Scholarship for exceptional Year 12 students who face financial barriers News Image

The University of Melbourne’s new Hansen Scholarship Program to help talented, determined students achieve their ambitions, regardless of social or economic barriers is the result of a generous $30 million gift. Read More

21 Feb 2019 | Melbourne
Class Clowns National Grand Final News Image

Class clowns finally get the chance to bring their underappreciated talent to the big stage with Melbourne International Comedy Festival having scouted Australia for the funniest secondary schoolers. Read More

21 Feb 2019 | National
Aussie schools need to teach more life skills News Image

Australians are largely positive about the level of education provided to their children but feel more attention should be given to developing students’ life skills in the classroom. Read More

19 Feb 2019 | India
Breakfast and lunch for better learning News Image

Breakfasts at school have had a great effect on learning outcomes and it looks like the same goes for lunch according to an investigation of 120 million Indian students. Read More