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6. Potential for two-way transfer of competencies, i.e. from generic to specific and vice versa, needs to be transparent.

The brief for the writing of this paper was couched in terms of enabling appropriate downward transferability (Brewerton, 2004, p.26) of essential competencies from the Framework level to the science curriculum level. We also believe that it is equally important to facilitate upward transfer of competencies. That is why we have called this paper “… implications for and from (sic) the Science Curriculum”.  We ould emphasise the importance of upward transfer of science competencies, not only from the science curriculum level, but also from the whole understorey of science classroom activities. From the teachers’ point of view, these learner competencies are selected at the “What do I do on Monday?” level (Holt, 1970). These specific competencies for learners are traditionally almost never mentioned in science curricula but they are set up whenever teachers make decisions about lesson plans and unit plans, choose an appropriate specific pedagogy, or select what they hope are suitable activities and apparatus.  Concerning these specific competencies and the possibility of upward transfer, Hodson (1993) concluded severely but - in our view, laudably - that: “… only those skills should be taught that are of value in pursuit of other learning …  When successful engagement in an experiment requires a skill that children will not need again … alternatives should be found such as pre-assembly of apparatus, teacher demonstration, computer simulation, etc.”.

7. Any formulation of competencies in education at large, and in science education in particular, needs to take account of the literature on current social trends, and of projections about the world of the future.

We consider that there are huge implications for the formulation of essential competencies arising from the six Future Focussed Themes in the Stocktake (Ministry of Education, 2002, p.33-34), namely: social cohesion; citizenship; education for a sustainable future; bicultural and multicultural awareness; enterprise and innovation; and, critical literacy. Concerning science education, Hipkins et al. (2002) offered a comprehensive discussion of what literature suggests might emerge in New Zealand from debates around the notion of ‘scientific literacy’ (chapter seven), and from a focus on the social and cultural aspects of science education (chapters eight, nine and ten). The whole emerging tendency to construe learning at large in socio-cultural terms (Hipkins, Barker and Bolstad, 2004), together with Lee’s (1997) contention that “when students’ language and cultural experiences are in conflict with scientific practices, when they are forced to choose, (they) may avoid learning science” have, we believe, huge significance for the formulation of competencies. From this viewpoint, competencies related to who one is (i.e., one’s very being) - which is a much wider matter, even, than as what one knows - cross-cut all learning, and science learning in particular (Parker and Goicoechea, 2000).

From TKI | NZ Curriculum Marautanga Project | What’s happening | Science ­|  Reframing the essential skills        

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