Cogito ergo sum.
I think therefore I am. It is one of the most powerful and well-known philosophical statements ever spoken – and one of the simplest. I have thought about this statement often over the past few months as I think about how we transform education. Is it a simple solution? A simple statement? Or is it a complex problem?
I believe strongly in the power and potential of competency-based education (CBE). Yet is it a simple solution – a simple philosophical change – or a far more complex concept than even I understand? I believe at its core, competency-based education is learning that can occur, and does occur, anytime anywhere anyhow anyplace. But in that discussion we must recognize that I have described logistical and structural components of competency-based education. Certainly not it’s instructional components.
Instructionally we must think about how CBE is different. Simplistically I believe teachers teach towards a conceptual understanding. Some might say they teach a skill. Nonetheless, CBE is different from standards-based education. A competency might be a higher form of a standard if standards are the what and competencies are the how. Competencies might also encompass multiple standards and are best understood because they are cross-disciplinary. For example, we may consider reading to be a competency because it is not just for literature class but is a skill that has lifetime enduring value.
As we move forward with further discussions about the pros and cons of competency-based education, we would be wise to consider it both from a systemic perspective and from an instructional perspective. I believe the conversation will be much richer.
What are your thoughts?