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Developing 21 st century competencies through disciplines of knowledge. Barry McGaw Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Melbourne Chair, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. Muscat, Sultanate of Oman 22-24 September 2013.

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developing 21 st century competencies through disciplines of knowledge

Developing 21st century competencies through disciplines of knowledge

Barry McGawVice-Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Melbourne

Chair, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority

Muscat, Sultanate of Oman22-24 September 2013

Education and 21st Century CompetenciesNational Symposium

outline of presentation
Outline of presentation
  • Simultaneous treatment of disciplines and 21st century skills
  • Presenting the curriculum electronically
  • Linking resources to the curriculum for teachers
21 st century skills for the 21 st century
21st century skills for the 21st century
  • Cisco/Intel/Microsoft Assessment and Teaching of 21st century skills project
    • White paper defining 21st century skills
      • Ways of thinking
        • Creativity and innovation
        • Critical thinking, problem solving and decision making
        • Learning to learn and metacognition
      • Ways of working
        • Communication
        • Collaboration and teamwork
      • Tools for working
        • Information literacy
        • ICT literacy
      • Living in the world
        • Citizenship – global and local
        • Life and career
        • Personal and social responsibility
australian curriculum view of 21 st century skills
Australian Curriculum view of 21st century skills
  • Are they uniquely 21st century?
    • Most have been important for centuries
    • The technology-rich environment is new
  • Nomenclature General capabilities not 21st century skills
    • Literacy
    • Numeracy
    • Information and communication technology capability
    • Critical and creative thinking
    • Personal and social capability
    • Ethical understanding
    • Intercultural understanding
  • Key questions
    • Do we have developmental continua for these capabilities?
    • What content would be required for their development?
australian curriculum view of knowledge disciplines
Australian Curriculum view of knowledge disciplines
  • Central place for content
    • Preserving the disciplines
      • Disciplines are the result of several millennia of human effort
      • Research on expertise shows importance of deep, domain-specific knowledge
    • Attending to some current, cross-curriculum priorities
      • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
      • Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia
      • Sustainability
  • Form of curriculum content
    • Content descriptions setting out learning entitlements
    • Content elaborations for teachers who would like more details
    • Achievement standards with annotated samples of student work
  • Can the same content serve the general capabilities?
structure of the australian curriculum

Many cells will be empty.

Structure of the Australian Curriculum

Can general capabilities be covered in the cells?


3 Cross-curriculum Priorities

Asia and Australia’sLinks with Asia


Aboriginal and Torres StraitIslander Histories and Cultures

7 General Capabilities


ICT Capabiity

Critical and Creative Thinking

Personal and Social Capability

Intercultural Understanding




Economics, Business

Civics and Citizenship




Health and Physical Education


The Arts

Ethical Understanding

11 Disciplines/Learning areas



  • English, mathematics, science, history, geography available.
  • Rest due by end of 2013.

This button opens curriculum by learning area, general capability, cross-curriculum priority and year (grade) level.


Filter by year (grade) levels,

strands, general capabilities, cross-curriculum priorities.

Icons indicate general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities for which the content descriptions are relevant.


Use this view to display content and content elaborations.

Foundation year selected.

General capability & cross-curriculum priority icons.


Display filtered on:

General capabilityCritical & creative thinking


StrandScience understanding


Organising elements

  • The Critical and creating thinking learning continuum is organised into four interrelated elements, each detailing differing aspects of thinking. The elements are not a taxonomy of thinking. Rather, each makes its own contribution to learning and needs to be explicitly and simultaneously developed.
  • Inquiring – identifying, exploring and organising information and ideas
  • Generating ideas, possibilities and actions
  • Reflecting on thinking and processes
  • Analysing, synthesising and evaluating reasoning and procedures.

Six levels cover the years F to 10. Level 1 – Foundation Level 2 – Years 1-2 Level 3 – Years 3-4 Level 4 – Years 5-6 Level 5 – Years 7-9Level 6 – Years 9-10

In this display, 3 levels can be seen at a time, either 1-3 or 4-6.

Asking why events make people happy or sad.

Asking who, when, how and why about a range of situations and events.


Filtered on:Grade/Year 4Critical & creative thinking

Now select:View elaborations and matching resources


Resources for students and teachers help with personalisation of learning for students.

The resources can be filtered by type.

182 resources listed below.

review and conclusion
Review and conclusion
  • Australian Curriculum
    • Includes 21st century skills as general capabilities
    • Is also, very importantly, organised by disciplines/learning areas.
    • Provides developmental continua for both
  • Electronic presentation
    • Allows users to filter the curriculum in various ways.
    • Allows ready connection with a database of electronic resources
  • Powerful confluence of developments that is supporting a major curriculum change in Australia.