It’s time to make knowledge more complicated

Clio et cetera

I read with some interest this week Andrew Old’s blog on the sloppy use of the word ‘skills’. His analysis is very much in the right direction: the term skills has been used far too loosely over the years and few are sufficiently specific about what they mean by it. Andrew Old identified three different meanings to the term ‘skills’:

(1) an ability to do something – this means so much that it means nothing as everything can be cast in terms of doing something.

(2) generic or transferable skills, such as ‘thinking skills’, ‘teamwork’ and ‘problem-solving’

(3) skills that are context-specific and acquired through practice

I am going to take (1) as uncontroversial and concentrate for the moment on (2). Andrew Old is of course right that this is the greater debate, not least because a number of attempts have been made in recent years to base curriculum, pedagogy…

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