The OECD’s PISA test, which assesses the quality of a nation’s education in terms of reading, maths and the sciences in 15-year olds, is for the first time going to test "global competence" in 2018.
The tests, run every three years by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, are among the most widely used measures for global education standards. There are lot of different education league tables (including PIRLS and TIMMS) but whether or not you believe in ranking educational quality in this way, they make things happen around them.
Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's director of education, says that international promises about the right to "quality education for all" now have to mean more than the "foundation knowledge" of maths, reading and science, it also needs to be about "learning to live together".
It certainly seems self-explanatory that tests of maths, reading and science are tested, as they are the most straightforward to test and measure. The introduction of criteria for ‘global competence’ takes the PISA tests into a new realm and is a challenge to intolerance and extremism.
The OECD describes global competence as the capacity to examine local, global and intercultural issues, to understand and appreciate the perspectives and world views of others, to engage in open, appropriate and effective interactions with people from different cultures, and to act for collective well-being and sustainable development.
Given Learn2Think’s work on developing Tolerance Day and its associated educational materials - addressing fake news, assessing knowledge and bias and religious tolerance - we are excited by this development and what it means for education.
One of the most challenging things will lie not simply in assessing just how ‘global competence’ will be measured, but also how it will be taught. Learn2Think has been planning a pilot project for 2018 which we believe will provide curriculum-based materials that provide support for embedding global competence in every primary school.
The programme has largely been developed from work undertaken with schools over the last couple of years. The materials for the new pilot project have been developed with a team of teachers, researchers, psychologists and academics.
We are interested in discovering the extent to which the practice of critical thinking and empathy building within the existing curriculum can impact children’s bias and understanding of perspective. The idea is to introduce questioning approaches within the existing curriculum, encouraging independent thinking and assessment, without adding further burdens to teachers.
The pilot will provide a programme structure, sample lesson plans, workshops and projects, as well as training to help teachers create lesson plans embedded with the values of the Questioning Curriculum.
If you or your school are interested in working with the Learn2Think Foundation on developing its Questioning Curriculum – a national curriculum based programme to encourage independent thinking, collaborative action and creative engagement – drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07958 923 182.
A version of this column first appeared in Education Today