16 December 2022

What School Ought to Teach (WSOT) list

What School Ought to Teach (WSOT) list consists of 10 key competencies, embedded in a humanistic view, that prepare young people for life in a perpetually changing world.


source: Pixabay

We live in a fast-changing, unpredictable, uncertain, increasingly complex, and ambiguous world. Producing more of the same discipline knowledge and skills is not enough to address the challenges of the present and future. 

All over the world, education is at a crossroads. Many believe that education has not lived up to its promises of providing an inclusive approach meaning fairness, equity, and high quality for all. 

However, it is important to remember that we are not just victims of change or powerless observers. The main mission of education is to invest in the future and provide hope. Powerlessness and pessimism are its worst enemies. It is high time to rethink schools as a place of shaping responsible, motivated, dedicated, and conscious learners, but – above all – happy and fulfilled people. 

The answer to this challenge is a holistic, learner-centered approach based on the ability to combine multiple skills and competencies.

Holistic Think Tank, following the results of the research conducted in 10 countries, has developed a list of 10 values that schools ought to teach in order to educate active and engaged citizens capable of living, collaborating and communicating in a multi-faced world, able to think in a creative and critical manner to solve complex problems with the recognition and use of the potential of new technologies, while being able to avert their risks. 

Designing a better future is also about being able to live in harmony with nature, adapt to ever-changing situations, and develop new attitudes and skills through lifelong learning strategies as well as innovative thinking and acting. 

Restoring human values within schools means humanity in the outside world.

The ability to navigate through changing times, environments, and contexts, with an emphasis on the development of Artificial Intelligence and Industry 4.0.

Ability to change one’s actions and attitudes in response to a new context, i.e., being flexible and open to new ideas and approaches.

Willingness to quickly acquire new skills and change strategies relating to professional, social, and private life.

Learning from experiences, i.e., acquiring knowledge and skills through direct engagements with real-world situations.

Attentiveness and openness to the velocity and diversity of the contemporary world, i.e., a maturity to face challenges of the fastest progressing changes, especially those related to the development of Artificial Intelligence and Industry 4.0.

Local and global thinking, i.e., understanding the modern world in general and acknowledging political, social, and economic processes that shape it. Linking global issues with corresponding local perspectives.

An entrepreneurial, proactive, and diligent attitude based on performance and resilience. The ability to take the initiative and being mission-driven. Knowledge of essential economic and banking tools. Making conscious and wise financial decisions.

Pro-activity or taking independent actions and assuming responsibility for them.

Perseverance or persistence in the pursuit of goals.

Planning or dividing learning and future endeavors into chunks, with setting attainable goals.

Problem formulation; formulating a problem at multiple levels of abstraction.

Problem analysis; the ability to break a problem down into constitutive elements that can be easily identified and solved (recursion).

Problem-solving; the ability to find a way out of a new difficult situation using previously acquired knowledge and skills/competencies.

Financial decision-making, i.e., analytical skills and tools necessary for prudent financial decision-making, both concerning business and household budget.

Knowledge of essential economic and banking tools, such as loans, deposits, mutual funds, installments, interest rates, etc.

A sense of belonging within one’s community, being active in its care and responsibilities. It encompasses democratic action, social justice, and social responsibility.

Participation in or active commitment to the education process, in which students take responsibility for their own growth and, as a result, for the development of society.

Reflectiveness or making a contribution to society while maintaining a critical stance. It includes informed and responsible participation in economic, social, cultural, and political life, challenging dominant yet impermanent values, and the ability to prioritize them.

Conflict solving, i.e., seeking solutions that are both practicable and favorable to all parties involved; accepting help offered by others when needed; the ability to admit one’s own mistakes and errors of judgment; understanding different attitudes; narrowing the divides.

Taking democratic action, i.e., using adequate tools and exercising relevant rights in communication with authorities; engaging in civil society initiatives and taking grass-roots activities; initiating change.

The ability to communicate effectively and respectfully in written, verbal, and nonverbal manner. An attitude of multilevel understanding of verbal and nonverbal signals sent by the interlocutors. Choosing the appropriate words according to the context, situation, and place. Understanding language culture. 

Clearly expressing one’s thoughts, i.e., using the right terminology to name one’s ideas; being able to communicate them to other people; and, as a result, being able to persuade others to accept your arguments.

Communication skills and readiness to change one’s point of view; the ability to communicate your intentions and actions to leaders, representatives of other bodies, and fellow citizens. The ability to listen, recognize interests and compromise in community life. Developing the ability to solve conflicts and respect different points of view.

Awareness of non-verbal communication, i.e., which includes both understanding its importance, being able to interpret non-verbal signals such as gestures and facial expressions, as well as the conscious management of one’s own body language during conversations.

Understanding interconnections between language, culture, and identity; seeing the possibilities offered by a language and using them in different contexts; recognizing cultural linguistic codes.

Global communication skills, i.e., understanding people from other cultures who speak foreign languages, coupled with the ability to interact and cooperate with them,

Effective and creative interaction skills, namely self-confidence, initiative, goodwill, and listening skills.

Curiosity: about the world, about knowledge, about other people. Permanent awakening of admiration for the complexity and beauty of the world. Positive attitude towards learning and new experiences, along with critical thinking and the ability to analyze sources reasonably. Awareness of the existence of dangers such as propaganda, fake news, and manipulation – as well as the ability to recognize them and appropriately respond. 

Being curious about the world, i.e., appreciating different spheres of life and their interconnectedness at a time when the world calls for narrow specialization in our jobs.

Being open and having no preconceived ideas; being ready to accept the unexpected; being open to development; making discoveries; accepting narratives and non-obvious interpretations. Making no assumptions.

Seeing knowledge as a tool for independent thinking and action and for developing one’s cognitive skills: the ability to use knowledge independently and to build on it to acquire further knowledge.

Looking for recurring patterns, abstract reasoning, and model making; finding patterns, identifying regularities and recurring models in a concept; presenting relevant data and eliminating irrelevant ones; generalizing and presenting a problem in the form of a model or simulation.

Positive attitude to learning and openness to new experiences, which should translate into recognizing gaps in one’s knowledge and setting goals for self-development; understanding the need for lifelong learning and viewing the process through the lens of its dynamics and variability.

Self-regulated learning, namely an effective and autonomous process of planning, estimating, forecasting, and noting one’s own capabilities and the ability to determine the level of their usefulness;.

Cultivating intellectual humility; having the ability to doubt one’s own knowledge without discrediting what one has already learned.

Critical thinking, information searching, and interpreting skills, as well as the ability to exercise good judgment and reasoning effectively.

Humility towards nature and animal and plant species. Understanding climate phenomena and the relationship between different ecosystems (both terrestrial, aquatic, and aerial). Awareness of climate change, the energy crisis, and species extinction. Readiness to act for the sake of the natural environment and the well-being of the planet.

Climate change awareness, accompanied by taking actions to reduce it, both in personal and public lives. Being reflective in daily choices that can affect the amount of carbon footprint, such as conscious use of transportation means, segregation of garbage, reduction of plastic consumption, not wasting water or heating, etc. 

A sensitive and humble approach to nature and various species of animals and plants. Awareness of the existence of various ecosystems (both terrestrial, aquatic, and aerial) and the connections between them. The realization that we are part of a larger whole on which we depend.

Responsible tourism, namely minimizing the negative impacts on ecosystems and climate while maximizing the positive benefits. Awareness of endangered species and ecosystems and the knowledge that mass tourism (like industry) can contribute to their destruction. Humility towards the animals and plants encountered, especially those endemic and rare. Not disturbing animals, not picking endangered plants, not littering, not destroying nature.

Conserving, managing, and equitably sharing natural resources, which implies responsibility for the world.

Making choices with having common good in mind, i.e., choices based on empathy and sustainable use of natural resources, as well as cooperation with nature.

Taking care of one’s own body and physical, mental, and emotional health. Seeing the human body as a psycho-somatic whole. Developing an attitude of resilience to stress and the ability to remain calm and balanced regardless of external factors. The ability to recognize and name one’s own emotions or mental states and the readiness to accept help if our mental state deviates from a healthy one. Similarly, the habit of observing one’s own body and recognizing and responding to signals from it.

Awareness of one’s unique features; understanding how one changes over time and that your pace of development depends on several factors.

Fair self-judgment; drawing conclusions; learning from positive and negative experiences; showing a reasonable attitude towards one’s own shortcomings, losses, failures, and inadequacies; being open to receiving feedback.

Taking care of one’s own body and physical, mental, and emotional health. Understanding that the mental state affects physical health and the reverse, as well as the realization that the human body is not a collection of independent systems but a whole that can only be taken care of holistically, that is, by ensuring internal harmony, conscious nutrition, physical activity or adequate sleep and rest, among other things.

The ability to recognize and name one’s own emotions, mental states, and signals from the body; Similarly, attentiveness in observing mental states in the people around and a willingness to help them wisely and discreetly when needed.

Developing an attitude of resilience to stress and the ability to remain calm and balanced regardless of external factors.

Awareness that our attitudes and behavior affect those around us, going along with cultivating in ourselves an attitude of kindness and empathy toward others. At the same time, developing in oneself an attitude of resistance to the provocation, criticism, and verbal violence of others.

Sensitivity to art, aesthetic sense, and respect for the heritage of civilization and cultures. The ability to notice and decode cultural codes while knowing they differ in other parts of the world. An admiration for the heritage of literature, painting, music, or other arts. Readiness to receive music, art, and literature, as well as to strengthen creativity in oneself.

Understanding cause and effect relationships with links between the past, present and future; the ability to properly understand the interdependency and modes of change and their relationship to the present and the future.

Decoding meanings, especially of culturally relevant elements of everyday life; recognizing values and variations in meaning.

Sense of aesthetics, particularly in linguistic context; the ability to transfer elements of literary language into everyday communication.

Sound awareness, i.e., using the full potential of sounds to mark mathematical and material similarities, differences, and features of objects you deal with.

Creativity or the development of one’s true potential through various arts (music, visual and graphic arts, and other creative fields of activity).

Proactive action for the future not only of one’s own but also of humankind. Morality and ethics anchored in humanistic values. Respect for the other person as well as humanity as a species.

An attitude of ethics and responsibility. Understanding that morality is what distinguishes human beings from Artificial Intelligence, i.e., readiness to remain human in the era of new technologies and very fast-moving changes; not harming, showing compassion, empathy, and self-control; being a kind and good person.

Proactive action for the future – not only of one’s own but also of humankind.

Respect or appreciation for disparate opinions and beliefs; proper recognition of different cultures and religions; observing human rights, justice, etc.

Noticing bias and privilege, i.e., recognizing one’s own bias and being able to identify the privileges enjoyed by one and others, also in the context of day-to-day operations of an institution, perceiving the impact of these phenomena on society, its internal dynamics, and relationships within it.

A sense of social justice, i.e., overcoming systemic and structural inequalities and dealing with power relations that involve everyday interactions, including those in school.

A sense of social responsibility, i.e., knowledge and attitudes that take into account the common good in decision-making, which include: solidarity, non-discrimination, and a sense of belonging.

Optimism and belief in a better future as well as awareness of shared responsibility for building it. The ability to build trust at all levels of interactions – from everyday life, through activities in the local community, to trust in the institutions and systems.

Hope, i.e., looking forward to the future with desire and reasonable confidence that motivates further action. Believing that there is always a possibility for a positive outcome, which enables active, optimistic actions.

Living with a sense of purpose, i.e., seeing one’s life as being able to contribute to the world’s development, if only on a micro level.

Avoiding gloomy attitudes and apocalyptic visions of the future, which are dangerous through the effect of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Nurturing optimism and life cheerfulness as the foundation for positive actions for society, the world, and nature.

Building trust in oneself, the world, and others, while being able to spot threats.

Understanding that trust and hope are the foundations of the educational processes. Nurturing sound student-teacher, teacher-parent, and teacher-supervisor relationships.