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Skills and Abilities: the Discussion of the Moment

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Prof. Gabriel Mario Rodrigues

Gabriel Mario Rodrigues – Chairman of the Board of Directors of ABMES

“Educating is like the art of cultivating the land: it establishes skills, abilities, special attentions, sensitivity to learn from time, learning from the seed that seeks to germinate an infested environment and learning how to prepare the land, the time to sow, … The time to reap … If you do not watch for changes, at the time of harvest, you can lose everything. “(Nildo Lage)

Some readers who accompany me weekly on the ABMES Blog may even be surprised by my approach today. In principle, it may seem like a paradox, which runs counter to what I have stated in my articles about obsolescence of the classroom. You may think the subject is disconnected or even contradictory. But given the treatment of the media recently, the subject became “agenda.” So we need to talk about it too, and that’s the complexity of education.

We are enriching the world of knowledge by discussing artificial intelligence, multiple intelligences, teaching and learning in the Digital Age, innovation, hybrid teaching, etc., etc. And there are a number of doubts, questions, perplexities and even frights, not to mention fears with what is there and how much will still come. An almost ruthless charge.

Undoubtedly there are already educational institutions losing the magnetic north and there are those who are looking for a Teacher Relations Supervisor, giving him tasks unthinkable until a short time ago. As if coordinators and directors did not get the message.

It is not today that we discuss about Skills & Competencies (S & C) that must integrate the attributes of the disciplines, in their contents. They are talking about it as if it were the great news, but it is worth remembering that the National Education Council (CNE) addressed the issue in its first editions of the so-called New Curriculum Guidelines. So it was from yesterday, but from decades.

In the Brazilian Education Blog, Luísa França highlights the current concern about how to teach and how to evaluate based on S & C: “This issue is being increasingly discussed in an effort to make the learning process less focused on content and more focused on development and preparing students for the challenges of today’s world. ”

The writer points out the National High School Exam (Enem) as an “example of the relevance of thinking about a pedagogical process based on skills and abilities. This is because the Exam has as guiding a Reference Matrix with descriptors of skills and abilities”. Again a straitjacket and a contend-filled curricular plaster.

How to have less content and provide the desirable development in the preparation of students in order to withstand the globalized confrontation of the world today? How to teach/convey S & C without them being curricular subjects, but that they appear in the development of the class offered as a cherry on the cake? Are pianists, sculptors and so many other professionals already born with S & C? Some, maybe.

According to Professor Jacir Venturi, in an article published on the ABMES Blog, based on Howard Gardner’s studies, people are endowed with different intelligences and, despite genetic inheritance, can and should be developed by the stimuli of the environment, family, school and personal effort.

In the face of a world in turmoil and constant change/evolution, are the S & C of yesterday applicable today? Everything can exponentially change overnight. The certainties do not come to solidify in order to compose a stony and somewhat perennial stratum. I find it particularly great, but the classrooms have become a boiling cauldron.

The concepts of the two entries open up several questions and doubts, showing that they are subjects that must be studied continuously and in a continuous way for greater understanding, for clarification and for the concrete use of S & C development in all segments of education.

And now, with the emergence of the Basic National Common Curriculum (BNCC), this raises enormous concern.

After all, what are Competencies?

In a simple way, it is possible to say that it is competent the one who has the capacity to appreciate and solve a certain problem by doing something; has aptitude and training for solutions that go beyond imagination and skills, whether manual or mental. These attributes are all pertinent to education. Competency is a quality of appreciating and solving a problem, involving ability, skill and aptitude. Competent individuals, within the most varied professional activities, tend to be successful.

Skills are essential for the individual to succeed in social life and career. The way you conduct your relationships, responsibilities and profession is determined by your ability to cope daily with everyday situations, whose results are totally dependent on how your problems are solved. The labor market requires people capable of making decisions, leading, resolving conflicts, using knowledge acquired throughout the academic process.

But it is good to emphasize that competency is not reached, it develops. Competency is doing well what we set out to do. Here we can highlight the etymological essence of efficiency and effectiveness.

According to Luísa França, “in a summary way, we can say that the competences in the educational context relate to the capacity of the student to mobilize resources to address and solve a complex situation.” Simply put, it is for the student to know, or to know how to know.

It should be clarified that competence and performance can generate problems in the teaching and learning process, in the interpretation of results. Performance can be defined as an indicator of competence, that is, it serves to guide teachers and managers, to verify that students are effectively developing skills. However, it is important to note that weak performance is not necessarily a lack of competence.

As for the skills, it can be proposed that the skill is the practical application of certain competence to solve a complex situation. In other words, it is for the student to know how to do. That simple.
It remains to merge into the historical crucible of knowledge one and the other, relating S & C. Professor Vasco Moretto, Ph.D. in Didactics at Laval University in Quebec/Canada, summarizes this merger:
“Skills are associated with knowing how to do: physical or mental action that indicates the acquired ability. Thus, identifying variables, understanding phenomena, relating information, analyzing problem situations, synthesizing, judging, correlating, and manipulating are examples of skills. Already competencies are a set of harmonically developed actions that characterize, for example, a specific function/profession: being an architect, doctor or professor of chemistry. Skills should be developed in pursuit of competencies.”

But why did these two attributes eventually shape the modern educational proposition, why work for S & C in school?

The reality is that we are living today in the age of technology and information and have never produced and consumed so much content in the history of humanity at all levels and areas of society. This is due to the ease we have in accessing information, especially after the emergence and expansion of the internet.

The French teacher is categorical:
“In this scenario, the school had to (or should) change its positioning. Before this information revolution in our society, the school was held responsible for the dissemination of content. This no longer makes sense, since students have access to content independently of the school, and can also visualize and consume them in the quantity, speed and moment they wish.”

Thus, the school should focus on the educational proposal in S & C to prepare the student to deal with everyday situations, be able to solve real problems. This position also indicates the alignment with the educational trends that highlight the importance of placing students as protagonists, being active agents in the teaching and learning process, through extra-class or complementary educational activities.

BNCC is founded on essential learning for the student through S & C, which is not limited to skills, gifts and gifts. It requires guidance and education.