Given our work on Tolerance Day 2017 on fake news, religious tolerance and the fact that we’re developing a research project on the development of bias, the news that the initial tests by the OECD will take place in about 80 countries next year provides greater impetus to our work.
One of the most challenging things will be what this ‘global competence’ will mean. According to the OECD it means finding out how well young people can understand other people's views and cultures, how they can look beyond the partisan echo chamber of social media and distinguish reliable evidence from fake news.
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".
Mr Schleicher says young people need to navigate a globalised economy and to communicate and empathise with people from different countries and backgrounds. There's also a stronger underlying message of internationalism and cultural openness. 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.
These new criteria provide a new level of support for our approach and we are planning a pilot project in 2018 to explore the extent to which embedding critical thinking skills within the everyday curriculum can have an impact on bias and perspective.
The programme has largely been developed from work we have done with primary schools on religious tolerance and diversity, as well as understanding knowledge and learning how to disagree and move forward. The materials were developed with a team of teachers, researchers, psychologists and academics.
The programme is built on the work of SAPERE’s Philosophy for Children but we are interested in discovering the extent to which the practice of critical thinking and empathy building within the curriculum can impact children -rather than schools having to devote extra resources to the practice.
We are focused on the transition ages of 9 to 12 as this seems to be when prejudice and otherisation are developing.
If you or your school are interested in taking part in either focus groups or our pilot project, please do get in touch by calling 07958 923 182.