The education zeitgeist assumes the existence of general skills and abilities. The influential Partnership for 21st Century Skillsclaims that there are ‘Learning and Innovation Skills’ such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. The Australian Curriculum posits the existence of a ‘general capabilities’ such critical and creative thinking and personal and social capability which it requires schools to teach and assess, and has developed various rubrics to help do this. Which is not a trivial matter: The OECD has invested time and effort in developing its own methods for attempting to assess supposed skills such as collaborative problem solving.
If such skills did exist, then this would be huge for education. Typically, we find that knowledge and skills that students learn in one context do not transfer very well to similar contexts, and very poorly to quite different contexts. This is the problem of ‘transfer’.
If general purpose skills…
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