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

1. How to confront themselves with challenges 

Including especially:

problem formulation, that is, being able to formulate a problem at many levels of abstraction, presenting it in a concise form that facilitates its further analysis and with a view to solving it later on by employing different methods and tools;

problem decomposition, that is, being able to break the problem into components (constitutive elements) and reduce it to easily solvable elements (recursion);

problem solving, in other words: finding the way out of a novel situation based on previously acquired knowledge and skills/competencies;

collection and ordering of data, that is, drawing data in from all available sources and ordering it logically to facilitate its further analysis;

critical thinking, which encompasses the practical skills involved in finding and interpreting information and the competences of proper judgement and effective reasoning related thereto.

2. How to function in relation to the world and nature, as well as with one’s own body

In particular, they should focus on:

searching out recurrent patterns, reasoning abstractly, and creating models, especially finding schema, identifying regularities and repetitive sequences of patterns occurring in a concept, as well as being able to present those data that are essential while eliminating those that are not, and to generalize and present a problem as a model or simulation;

understanding causal relations, along with correspondences between the past, the present, and the future, particularly: a proper comprehension of occurring dependencies, and understanding of how change and the continuation process happen, along with their relation to the present and the future;

sustaining, tending to, and justly distributing both natural and cultural resources, which means being aware of the common good and responsibility for the world, in particular in conscious choices and acts aimed at the common good;

making choices based on the common good, therefore based on empathy towards others and sustainable usage of natural resources, as well as cooperation with nature.

3. The ideas of science and scholarship (learning)

Including especially:

respect for scientific and scholarly achievements, namely, to hold truth, scientific facts, and research heritage in high regard, while remaining open to new developments;

how to analyze sources, namely, how to understand the context in which facts are presented, along with the possibility of their different interpretation relative to the standpoint or perspective being assumed;

positive attitude towards learning and an attitude of openness in relation to new experiences, which should translate into discovering gaps in one’s own knowledge, based on which new developmental goals are then set, in addition to the attitude of lifelong learning, in accordance with which acquiring knowledge is a process both variable and dynamic;

knowledge both empowering one to think and act autonomously in a given field, and subsequently generating further knowledge, namely, how to first use knowledge independently and then use it to seek further knowledge instead of deriving it from others’ expressed experiences;

self-regulated learning, namely, an efficient and self-reliant process for planning, estimating, forecasting, and noticing one’s own capabilities, and being able to determine the level of usefulness of each of them.

4. How to function in society

In particular, they should emphasize:

participation, that is, an active engagement in the educational process, where an active individual becomes co-responsible for his or her own development and thereby also for other social processes;

respect, that is, evident appreciation of a variety of opinions and beliefs, and due regard for different cultures and religions, as well as for human rights, justice, etc.;

reflection, that is, the ability to contribute to society accompanied by a critical approach; capacity for well thought-out and responsible participation in the economic, social, cultural, and political life, as well as for presenting a critical stance towards prevalent but transient/changeable values, along with an ability to order such values hierarchically;

ways to deal with conflicts, that is, searching for solutions that will be workable and beneficial for all parties involved, wise use of others’ assistance, ability to admit one’s own mistakes and errors, demonstrating understanding towards others’ stances, and preventing the deepening of divisions;

recognition of bias and privilege, that is, perceiving one’s own prejudices and cultivating the ability to identify privilege both in oneself and in others, including in everyday institutional functioning, as well as recognizing the impact of the foregoing on society and its internal dynamics and relationships.

5. Aesthetic and cultural awareness

Including especially:

how to assign meaning, in particular, how to decode the culturally significant elements in one’s everyday reality, and how to recognize different values and various shades of meaning;

aesthetic competencies, especially in the context of language usage; how to transfer the aesthetic qualities of language associated with higher art into one’s everyday language;

awareness of sound, which means using the full potential of sounds to mark mathematical and material similarities, differences, and qualities of subjects one deals with;

conversation analysis (CA), that is, being capable of recognizing the aesthetic aspects of non-verbal communication comprising bodily gestures, and facial expression or countenance, therefore noticing such physical aspects as to facilitate greater acknowledgement of an individual’s circumstances;

creativity, namely, how to actualize one’s natural potential through activity pertaining to various fields of art (music, the visual and graphic arts, as well as other creative fields).

6. How to function in variable contexts and environments

In particular, they should teach:

how to deal with differences, therefore, knowledge of cultural differences and of appropriate rules of behaviour in various social situations, especially unfamiliar ones; awareness of prejudice and discrimination, ability to adapt to the wishes or needs of others, and considering the consequences of differences between people and various cultural backgrounds for important social processes, such as exclusion or inclusion;

local and global understanding, that is, the understanding of the contemporary world both as a whole and as the particular processes – political, social, economic, and any others, that shape it; connecting global issues with their corresponding local dimensions;

global literacy, that is, understanding people from other cultures who speak different languages, and being able to interact and cooperate with them;

effective and constructive tools for interacting with others, namely, confidence, responsibility, autonomy, initiative, cooperation, empathy, self-awareness, listening, flexibility, and adaptability.

7. How to function in relation to the state

In particular, they should focus on:

social justice, namely, overcoming systemic and structural inequalities, as well as dealing with power relations that pertain to everyday interactions, including amongst children, and between children and their teachers, tutors, and care providers;

social responsibility, that is, knowledge and the attitudes stemming therefrom, that facilitate consideration of common good and shared social interest in making one’s decisions, such as: solidarity, non-discrimination, a sense of belonging, and a protective outlook towards environmental and cultural heritage;

democratic action, that is, an ability to stress legitimate entitlement in interactions with political authorities;, participating in civil society; being able to engage in activism and initiate change.

8. Entrepreneurship


financial decision-making, that is, the analytical competencies along with the necessary tools for making wise financial decisions;

being proactive, namely, single-handedly initiating activities and assuming accountability for them;

planning, that is, dividing learning and future endeavours into periods and portions determined by reasonable goals;

hope, that is, envisioning the future in such a way that it motivates one to follow through with endeavours;

tenacity, that is, due perseverance in one’s endeavours and pursuits.

9. Interpersonal communication

In particular, they should teach:

communication skills and ability to change perspectives, that is, getting both one’s intentions and actions across whilst communicating them to one’s leaders, representatives, and fellow citizens; being capable of listening to one another, understanding other people’s interests, and attaining compromise within communities; developing a capacity for effective conflict resolution and respect for different perspectives;

how to properly verbalize one’s thoughts, that is, making use of appropriate terminology to verbalize discovered meanings and communicate them to others, thereby conveying them;

understanding language culture, that is, the place and significance of a given language as an element of a particular culture; acknowledging the advantages of a given language and deploying them in different contexts, as well as recognizing cultural codes of language.

10. Self-development

Including especially:

how to attain a state of anticipatory emptiness, namely, the readiness to accept an unexpected meaning; an attitude of openness both to development and to discoveries, narratives, and non-obvious interpretations; mindfulness; openness with no preconceived expectation;

how to be humane, which means causing no harm, and exhibiting sympathy, empathy, and self-control, as well as kindness and benevolence;

how to remain aware of one’s own uniqueness, that is, how to understand one’s own changeability in time and individual rate of development based on a multitude of patterns;

self-assessment and self-evaluation, that is, how to draw conclusions, learn from both positive and negative experiences, and display a healthy attitude towards one’s shortcomings, losses, defeats, and inadequacies, in addition to openness to feedback;

self-awareness, which should translate into being capable of making judgements, keeping promises, reasoning, and articulating one’s thoughts by means of both spoken and written language and other means, as well as of transcending one’s “self” and perceiving oneself as an element of a greater whole; ensuring that humanity remains connected to the world of nature;

intellectual humility, that is, the ability to doubt one’s own knowledge without discrediting what one has already learned;

how to remain life-oriented, namely, how to orient oneself toward broadly-understood life while fulfilling a necessarily narrowly focussed professional career.