Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 19

Cross-curricular priorities As part of the development of its framework for the common curriculum in Queensland schools, the Queensland

School Curriculum Council adopted four cross-curricular priorities: literacy numeracy lifeskills futures perspective. Council-endorsed position papers for each of these priorities have informed the development of all Council syllabuses and associated support materials.

ISBN 0 7345 2327 0 The State of Queensland (The Office of the Queensland School Curriculum Council) 2001 Copyright protects this publication. Except for purposes permitted by the Copyright Act 1968, reproduction by whatever means is prohibited. Queensland School Curriculum Council PO Box 317, Brisbane Albert Street, Q 4002 Level 27, 239 George Street, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia Telephone: (07) 3237 0794 Facsimile: (07) 3237 1285 Website: www.qscc.qld.edu.au Email: inquiries@qscc.qld.edu.au

Contents
Preface ..................................................................................................................................1 1. The nature and scope of lifeskills ................................................................................2 1.1 Introduction ............................................................................................................2 1.2 A conceptual overview............................................................................................2 2. Life roles, lifeskills and performance modes ..............................................................5 2.1 Introduction ............................................................................................................5 2.2 Life roles and lifeskills ............................................................................................5 2.3 Performance modes in various contexts.................................................................8 3. Lifeskills in the school curriculum...............................................................................9 3.1 Introduction ............................................................................................................9 3.2 Lifeskills and the life and ethos of schools..............................................................9 3.3 Lifeskills in relation to the core curriculum ............................................................10 3.4 Lifeskills and assessment.....................................................................................10 Appendix A .........................................................................................................................11 Queensland School Curriculum Council Vision Statement.............................................11 Appendix B .........................................................................................................................13 Different usages of Lifeskills ........................................................................................13 Using the term lifeskills ................................................................................................13

Lifeskills: Position Paper

Preface
The Queensland School Curriculum Council has defined the common curriculum for all schools in Queensland in terms of the nationally agreed eight key learning areas: The Arts, English, Health and Physical Education, Languages other than English, Mathematics, Science, Studies of Society and Environment, and Technology. Syllabuses for each of these key learning areas will identify a core of essential elements to be addressed by all students during the years of compulsory schooling. These core elements will combine with a number of integrative elements, including literacy, numeracy, futures and lifeskills. This paper sets out the Queensland School Curriculum Councils understanding of the nature and scope of lifeskills in relation to the school curriculum. Council syllabus developers will use this understanding when incorporating lifeskills as an integrative element of each key learning area syllabus, and associated sourcebooks and initial in-service materials.

Lifeskills: Position Paper

1.
1.1 Introduction

The nature and scope of lifeskills

The primary audience for this document is curriculum developers who will draw upon this conceptualisation of lifeskills in the development of the Queensland School Curriculum Council syllabuses, sourcebooks and initial in-service materials. A secondary audience includes other professional educators, including primary, secondary, tertiary and special educators. The concept of lifeskills offered in this paper is based on the premise that lifeskills is not a de facto key learning area in its own right. As an integrative element of the core curriculum, lifeskills offers a point of commonality across key learning areas and from Years 1 to 10. This concept of lifeskills is also founded on an assumption that there are at least four life roles that are fundamental to the life situations and experiences of people. These life roles provide an organising framework that is used to identify associated sets of lifeskills, and to inform the ways in which curriculum developers can provide students with opportunities to practise, develop and value lifeskills, in partnership with school communities. Each life role involves specific sets of skills which require a range of performances in various contexts involving different levels of competence and proficiency. The specific nature and performance of lifeskills, in the operation of any group or individual, takes place within, and is influenced by, particular social, cultural, historical and geographical contexts and values. Schools, in partnership with families and the broader community, offer a range of contexts and promote values which, in turn, results in a diversity of ways in which lifeskills can find expression.

1.2

A conceptual overview

Lifeskills involves four overarching components which, when taken together, reflect a set of inescapable human experiences. The overarching components are described below and brought together diagrammatically in Figure 1 below. 1.2.1 Life roles

The life roles identified here are central to the concept of lifeskills. These life roles are expressed in very general terms because the various contexts in which particular individuals and groups may need to perform these roles makes it difficult to predict the precise nature of the various lifeskills that will be needed to participate in these roles in the future. However, in whatever ways these roles may change, our participation in these roles and our identification with particular groups helps to define our unique personal life. It also both reflects and helps to shape our collective life and our understanding of what it means to be human. These life roles are identified as: growing and developing as an individual living with and relating to other people managing resources receiving from and contributing to local, state, national and global communities. While each of these roles highlights different aspects of human living, they are interrelated and interdependent. Personal growth and development, for example, take place in social, cultural, historical and geographical contexts. We are members of a range of communities and we derive differential benefits from and make variable contributions to these communities.

Lifeskills: Position Paper

THE NATURE AND SCOPE OF LIFESKILLS A CONCEPTUAL OVERVIEW

Vision Statement
This vision for school curriculum in Queensland is based on a number of views about the individual, the ideal society and wider societal expectations concerning educational outcomes. There are, for example, a number of views about the following: active and responsible participation in a democratic society caring family and community relationships actions to promote personal health and wellbeing cultural and multicultural understanding and experiences social justice and human rights ethical decision making and action contributing to global awareness and sustainability productive opportunities in the world the power of knowledge.

Growing and developing as an individual Personal development skills

Living with and relating to other people Social skills

Practical performance Reflective performance


Self-management skills Managing resources Citizenship skills Receiving from and contributing to local, state, national and global communities

Fig. 1: Overarching components of lifeskills

Lifeskills: Position Paper

1.2.2

Lifeskills

Participation in the four life roles, and the quality of the experiences and the outcomes that accompany such participation, is dependent on the range of skills that each student is able to bring to and develop within these roles. The word skill is used in this context to encompass knowledge, practical performance, attitudes, beliefs, and values. All of the lifeskills identified in this paper, therefore, must be understood as encompassing all of these facets of human understanding and ability. Clearly, the lifeskills involved in participating in these four life roles are innumerable and infinitely variable. It could be contested that no one person needs them all and no one can acquire them all. Furthermore, many people are unable to, or are prevented from acquiring even the most basic and fundamental lifeskills. Equally, many people who have particular sets of lifeskills confront situations where their capacities are not valued or where prevailing power structures exclude them from their preferred form of participation in these life roles. These barriers may result from very complex, intersecting sets of personal, social, economic, environmental and political forces, circumstances and situations. It is important to enhance students awareness and knowledge of these barriers and to their ability and commitment to challenge and overcome them. It is possible to identify at least four sets of lifeskills to enable students to participate in the four life roles identified above: personal development skills social skills self-management skills citizenship skills. It is also possible to identify ways in which curriculum developers may encourage these skills to be practised and developed by students in ways which are socially and culturally relevant. These sets of lifeskills and associated issues are considered in more detail in Section 2 of this paper. 1.2.3 Performance modes in various contexts

The concept of lifeskills, as developed in this paper, focuses largely on observable sets of lifeskills which individuals may perform. It is argued that a students performance of these lifeskills, within the context of schools, must demonstrate both practical expressions of, and critical reflection on the skills exhibited. In other words, performance involves two intersecting dimensions: (a) practical performance and (b) reflective performance. Any performance of lifeskills, whether of a practical or a reflective kind, will always take place within particular contexts and situations. All of these contexts and situations reflect a wide range of developmental, cultural and other factors which help shape the personal identities, abilities, beliefs, and values of particular groups and individuals at any given point in time. These contextual factors and their influence on the lives of groups and individuals are reflected in every performance of lifeskills. These contextual factors must, therefore, be considered by curriculum developers when planning learning experiences related to lifeskills and when providing advice regarding the assessment of any individuals performance of lifeskills. These performance modes will also be examined in more detail in Section 2.3. 1.2.4 Values

In the context of this conceptual overview, life roles and lifeskills have been defined in very general and inclusive terms, and their expression may be infinitely varied. Hence, value judgments about appropriate and inappropriate expressions of lifeskills have to be made. This is especially so when schools seek to make explicit and intentional provisions for students to

Lifeskills: Position Paper

practise and develop particular sets of lifeskills. Values may also be used as objects of study in themselves. As an integrative element of the core curriculum, lifeskills is based on the educational, democratic and ethical values reflected in the Queensland School Curriculum Councils Vision Statement (see Appendix A), involving respect for: justice life responsibility reasoning freedom fairness honesty the welfare of others integrity diversity ecologically sustainable development. peaceful resolution of conflict When these values and the summary purposes of schooling contained in the vision statement are combined with the concepts of life roles, lifeskills and performance modes outlined above, the general purposes of lifeskills in the curriculum, and some of the expected student learning outcomes in relation to them, begin to emerge. For example, references in the Vision Statement to living out concern for social justice and human rights and involving students in actions to promote personal health and wellbeing suggest that personal development skills must include, among other things, an understanding of how ones own and other peoples personal identities, and other aspects of growth and development are shaped, by factors such as gender, disability, race, culture, religion, economic status and ethnic background.

2.
2.1

Life roles, lifeskills and performance modes

Introduction

While there is not a clear-cut correspondence between life roles and clusters of lifeskills, for the purposes of illustration in this paper, they have been grouped as personal development skills, social skills, self-management skills and citizenship skills. The development of these lifeskills will rely upon the partnerships established between schools and their communities.

2.2
2.2.1

Life roles and lifeskills


Growing and developing as an individual: personal development skills

As individuals, we can become increasingly aware of the processes of growth and development that are taking place within us. These processes are not entirely predictable nor do we have unlimited power and control over them. We can use our opportunities and abilities to exercise some influence on the direction and outcome of this growth and development. Over time, most of us assume increasing responsibility for our own personal growth and development, bearing in mind that our membership of various groups will present certain advantages and constraints. The sets of skills identified below are examples of skills that curriculum developers can consider to assist students to grow and develop as individuals. These sets of skills are also the skills needed when each of us assumes some responsibility for the care and supervision of someone elses growth and development for example, in parenting or some other form of caring. These sets of skills are expressed in very general terms. Curriculum developers, in consultation with schooling authorities and others, may wish to extend the following list of student lifeskills: maintaining personal hygiene, health and wellbeing developing attitudes of perseverance, flexibility and adaptability in managing significant changes in personal growth and development

Lifeskills: Position Paper

developing an ethically sensitive and healthy approach to sexuality and sexual orientations identifying, evaluating and managing different processes, services and products designed to alter both rates and directions of personal growth and development developing a positive self-concept and appropriate levels of self-esteem identifying, critically reflecting on and managing ways in which cultural, racial, gender, economic status and other factors shape personal identities, life chances and opportunities achieving high standards of self-discipline, personal conduct and social responsibility managing stress and developing techniques for coping with grief and loss identifying the implications of the interconnectedness of the physical, psychological, emotional, social and cultural aspects of personal life constructing a personally satisfying and socially responsible system of beliefs and values making value judgments about personal actions, behaviour patterns and lifestyles articulating inner feelings, hopes, anxieties, aspirations, beliefs, visions and insights at both a personal and community level. Living with and relating to other people: social skills

2.2.2

We live with and relate to other individuals and groups of people in a variety of different contexts and through an array of different relationships. The nature of the relationships which we experience with other people is one of the more powerful factors shaping our lives. The sets of skills identified below are examples which curriculum developers may draw upon to assist students to live with and relate to other people across a variety of family, social and cultural contexts. These sets of skills are expressed in very general terms. Curriculum developers, in consultation with schooling authorities and others, may wish to extend the following list of student lifeskills: using different modes of communication, appropriate to particular purposes and audiences displaying imaginative, creative, responsible and practical expressions of caring, sympathetic and empathetic relationships with other people expressing and managing a range of different emotions working cooperatively with other people, and developing positive or pacifist strategies for cooperation and conflict resolution identifying, critically reflecting on and managing different ways of living and working in a multicultural and ever-changing society acting ethically by recognising and respecting the rights, needs and viewpoints of others identifying, critically reflecting on and managing ways in which cultural, racial, gender, economic status and other factors help shape community values, standards of behaviour, paid and unpaid work practices, welfare policies and practices developing confidence in relating to people in authority and power in various contexts, and relating to disempowered people discerning, expressing and evaluating ones own and other peoples responses to the wonder, mystery, beauty, and challenges of the cycle of birth, life and death. 2.2.3 Managing resources: self-management skills

The term resources refers to the personal capacities, as well as goods and services, that may be used, accessed and developed by individuals and groups. Obviously, these are by no means equally distributed among us and they are not identical in nature for all people. Nonetheless, in our day-to-day functioning each of us uses those that are available. The availability of resources and our ability to use them change over time. Such changes result from the complex set of ever-changing conditions and circumstances of life, and the

Lifeskills: Position Paper

associated changes in experience, access to power, physical, intellectual and economic capacities, aspirations, values and needs. The sets of skills identified below are examples which curriculum developers can draw upon to assist students to use their time and capabilities for personal enrichment and the benefit of the communities to which they live. These sets of skills are expressed in very general terms. Curriculum developers, in consultation with schooling authorities and others, may wish to extend the following list of student lifeskills: identifying and managing opportunities for lifelong learning using appropriate technologies to improve self-management using public amenities and services such as shops, transport, recreational and health facilities, financial institutions, social services scanning some data source to gain information and/or follow an instruction developing an awareness of and respect for personal strengths and weaknesses setting personal goals and devising strategies to attain them setting and maintaining priorities creating opportunities for leisure and recreation knowing how to seek and create both paid and unpaid work, and accessing local and community resources in planning life pathways addressing conservation issues and using natural resources wisely engaging in activities designed to improve the chances of maintaining employment knowing how to respond effectively in emergency situations such as contacting emergency services, administering first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation advocating for positive change, as a result of identifying and challenging differential access and ability to use and benefit from available resources managing personal, family and/or community finances operating effectively within organisations. 2.2.4 Receiving from and contributing to local, state, national and global communities: citizenship skills The communities in which we live shape our lives in highly significant ways. As we grow and develop within these communities, we are likely to acquire an increasing capacity to access, critique and shape the natural, social, economic, political, civic and spiritual resources within these communities. The possibilities and capacities for receiving positive and enriching experiences from, and making creative contributions to, the communities of which we are a part are not equally available to all people. There are also considerable differences between our opportunities and abilities to contribute to the maintenance, renewal and/or change of the local, state, national and global communities to which we belong. The sets of skills identified below are examples which curriculum developers can draw upon to assist students to receive from and contribute to various communities so that students may enhance their own lifestyles and sustain an acceptable quality of community life for future generations. These skills are expressed in very general terms. Curriculum developers, in consultation with schooling authorities and others, may wish to extend the following list of student lifeskills: recognising community needs and the means to meet some of these through voluntary service, awareness raising, or a variety of forms of political involvement identifying, critically reflecting on and managing laws which govern personal, family, community and workplace activities critically analysing social structures to identify factors that are perceived to be unjust or unsustainable

Lifeskills: Position Paper

proposing alternatives, devising and experimenting with strategies designed to change social structures that are perceived to be unjust or unsustainable understanding and critically analysing different ways of participating in and using the systems of government, justice and social services applying practical, ethical, aesthetic and social justice criteria when engaging in community problem solving in relation to social and environmental issues respecting private and public property critically evaluating from practical, cultural, ethical, economic, political and other perspectives how resources are allocated and the priorities which are set within different communities knowing how to respond to emergency situations such as contacting emergency services, administering first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

2.3

Performance modes in various contexts

Each of the sets of lifeskills identified above incorporates, in both explicit and implicit ways, two performance modes: practical and reflective. As stressed earlier, every performance of lifeskills takes place within and is influenced, if not conditioned, by particular contexts. Developing an ability to act in ways that are appropriate within, and/or sensitive to specific contexts and situations is a key consideration. Enabling students to recognise and be sensitive to the subtleties of different contexts and their current and likely future structures, requirements and challenges, opens up their opportunities to access, benefit from, and contribute to an ever-widening set of social, cultural, religious, political, academic and economic environments. For many people, having the competence and proficiency to participate, both actively and passively, in an increasing number of such structures and environments increases their life opportunities and enriches their self-understanding and view of the world. Examples of interrelated contexts in which students are most likely to have opportunities to perform these lifeskills include: family community educational recreational vocational. A considerable number of factors, including those of a personal, social, cultural, economic and environmental kind, impinge on each individuals experiences within these intersecting contexts. These experiences, in turn, influence perceptions about ones opportunities to perform lifeskills within a variety of contexts and situations. 2.3.1 Practical performance

This term is used to highlight the importance of the basic, practical tasks involved in performing lifeskills. Much of the practical knowledge and commitment needed to perform these tasks are likely to be acquired by students from outside-of-school experiences, and the contribution of family and community life to their effective performance is acknowledged. Nonetheless, schools do provide one highly significant real life context in which students perform many of these practical tasks. Enhancing students practical knowledge and abilities remains an important curriculum task for schools, and therefore needs to be taken into account by curriculum developers. 2.3.2 Reflective performance

All practical tasks involve some level of knowledge, understanding and valuing. These, in turn, require the use of a range of thinking skills to ensure that such knowledge, understanding and

Lifeskills: Position Paper

valuing is current, socially and personally relevant and open to critique, change, growth and refinement. An understanding of the world will be filtered through ones senses and spiritual understandings. The emotional experience of phenomena is an important dimension to reflective performance, equal to and balanced against a more analytical cognitive dimension. Reflective performance refers to each persons capacity to think in a variety of ways, to engage in critical reflective inquiry and to construct imaginative, enlightening, challenging and enriching solutions to problems. It is far more elusive and intangible than a practical mode of performance, and acknowledges that all purposeful behaviour is enhanced by the development of consciousness and awareness. This involves reflection on and development of sets of beliefs, values, and attitudes which inform and give direction to knowledge and skill.

3.
3.1 Introduction

Lifeskills in the school curriculum

This section addresses the issue of lifeskills in relation to the total life and ethos of schools and of the core curriculum. The issue of assessment is also addressed.

3.2

Lifeskills and the life and ethos of schools

A great deal of what students learn from their time at school is communicated through the total life and ethos of the school, as well as the way in which the relationship between the school and its community is expressed. Some of these influences may reap positive and personally enriching results for many students. Other influences may be negative and detrimental to some students learning and, in particular, to the development of personal selfconcepts. The formal curriculum, which includes all the intentional and planned activities which occur in school hours, together with those that are voluntary and which occur outside the required time for attendance at school, may receive most attention as the centrepiece of the schooling experience. However, any achievement of the learning outcomes sought from these formal activities will be significantly influenced by what students also learn from the general life and ethos of the school, learnings which form part of the hidden curriculum. A by-product of the hidden curriculum is that there are frequently different levels of participation in formal and informal aspects of schooling by girls and boys and by members of different ethnic, geographically located, and other groups in society. In recent years, the recognition of this fact has been formalised in a variety of ways by schooling authorities and individual schools. Included among these are policy statements, professional development opportunities and resource allocations related to activities such as: producing school development plans which incorporate mission and values statements maintaining a supportive and challenging school environment reviewing behaviour management strategies and practices implementing a range of social justice strategies designed to remove socially constructed barriers to learning outcomes for certain groups and individuals exploring the concept of the health-promoting school, as developed by the World Health Organisation. Taken together these initiatives are designed to help school communities provide a social and educational context in which students, teachers and others exercise and develop the whole range of lifeskills identified above. These initiatives need to be acknowledged by curriculum developers in their consideration of appropriate lifeskills for key learning area curriculum documents.

Lifeskills: Position Paper

3.3

Lifeskills in relation to the core curriculum

The Queensland School Curriculum Council has defined the common curriculum in terms of the nationally agreed eight key learning areas. It has also decided that there are a number of integrative elements, of which lifeskills is one, which must be identified within each of these key learning area syllabuses. The core curriculum, as defined by the Council, applies to all Queensland schools using Council syllabuses and involves students from Years 1 to 10. The Council recognises that teachers model and, therefore, communicate and promote certain understandings of literacy, numeracy, key competencies and lifeskills. These understandings are exhibited through, and in subtle ways promoted by, such professional activities as classroom management and teaching styles, means of communicating with and ways of relating to students. Moreover, the Council recognises that schools have traditionally offered students opportunities to engage in a range of lifeskills-promoting activities outside the formal academic program. Examples include student governmental structures; special interest clubs; voluntary organisations; social, religious and leadership clubs and programs; special events days and service-related activities. This identification of integrative elements makes it clear that all of the core requirements of each of these elements can be delivered through the application of Council syllabuses for the key learning areas. Schools using Council syllabuses have at least three modes of response to the issues raised within this paper, with the final decision resting with schooling authorities: Schools may integrate lifeskills into some or all features of the general life of the school. As lifeskills will be accommodated by curriculum developers in all Council syllabuses, sourcebooks and initial in-service materials, teachers using these curriculum materials will be fostering lifeskills in sufficient and appropriate ways. Schools may elect to offer discrete courses of study or other programs designed to provide students with specific opportunities to practise, learn about and develop lifeskills. Schools may include explicit references to lifeskills in their review and evaluation procedures to ensure that they clearly identify how, when and where students are given appropriate opportunities to practise and develop lifeskills.

3.4

Lifeskills and assessment

The centrality of performance modes in the concept of lifeskills in this paper, the positioning of lifeskills in relation to the core requirements of Council syllabuses, and the three possible modes of response by schools, all raise issues related to assessment. As an integrative element of the core curriculum, student learning outcomes in relation to lifeskills are integrated into the outcomes designated for each of the key learning areas. Therefore, there is no need for additional assessment to occur for lifeskills in isolation from Council syllabuses. The Council syllabuses clearly define the core requirements for each of the key learning areas. These core requirements will indicate the essential and unique characteristics of each key learning area and the learning outcomes that students are intended to achieve in relation to them. Relevant and appropriate lifeskills will be integrated into these core requirements.

10

Lifeskills: Position Paper

Appendix A
Queensland School Curriculum Council Vision Statement
This vision for school curriculum in Queensland is based on a number of views about the individual, the ideal society and wider societal expectations concerning educational outcomes. There are, for example, a number of views about the following: active and responsible participation in a democratic society caring family and community relationships actions to promote personal health and wellbeing cultural and multicultural understanding and experiences social justice and human rights ethical decision making and action contributing to global awareness and sustainability productive opportunities in the world the power of knowledge. The school curriculum in Queensland, in particular the formal or common curriculum, needs to take cognisance of these views. The Queensland School Curriculum Councils vision for school curriculum in Queensland is that all students will experience success through a common curriculum. The Council seeks to promote this vision through a commitment to shared values. The Councils commitment to shared values is reflected in its perspective on the common curriculum, which: focuses on the learner as a whole person their intellectual, social, aesthetic, creative, moral, spiritual, emotional and physical dimensions recognises and responds to different learning needs, learning styles and stages of development among students encourages the development of independent, participatory and collaborative approaches to teaching and learning acknowledges the necessity to utilise technologies to serve learners across the common curriculum promotes meaningful interactions among parents, learners, teachers, the community and the environment values cultural diversity within and beyond the school community explicitly promotes reconciliation among Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians promotes the importance of knowledge both for its potential to empower people through personal growth and development, and for its value in improving society promotes the development of a socially critical and active citizen, school, community and society recognises the importance of working productively (whether in a paid or unpaid role), and the importance of lifelong learning encourages an appreciation of Queenslands capacity to contribute to, and benefit from, economic and social relationships in a global context adopts the eight nationally agreed key learning areas is outcomes focused, and identifies core learning outcomes considered essential for all students includes an appropriate range of discretionary learning outcomes to assist teachers in broadening the understandings of some students

11

Lifeskills: Position Paper

promotes the development of cross-curricular priorities of literacy, numeracy, lifeskills and a futures perspective contains an explicit futures orientation while recognising the significance of continuity with the past.

The Queensland School Curriculum Council believes this vision for school curriculum in Queensland reflects both a broad social vision as well as individual aims and endeavours, and supports the achievement of the common and agreed national goals for schooling in Australia.

12

Lifeskills: Position Paper

Appendix B
Different Usages of Lifeskills
In the Report of the Review of the Queensland School Curriculum 1994 (Wiltshire Report) it was recommended that any definition of the curriculum should include a reference to lifeskills. It was suggested that lifeskills could include areas such as human relationships education, active and informed citizenship, ethics and religious education. The review also suggested that lifeskills should be addressed within key learning areas. In 1995, the Queensland School Curriculum Council was given the responsibility of clarifying the scope, nature and place of lifeskills in the Queensland school curriculum.

Using the term lifeskills


The term lifeskills has no one self-evident meaning and it is not used consistently in educational literature and practice. These differences are also evident in the ways in which many schools currently devise and structure lifeskills programs. In general terms, three broad usages seem to be apparent. 1. To affirm particular understandings of and approaches to providing quality educational experiences for students.

Some of the understandings and approaches advocated during the consultative process for this paper include: an emphasis on a holistic approach to understanding human nature and the nature of knowledge the importance of an understanding of the interrelationship of pedagogy and curriculum in the achievement of specific learning outcomes the need for a socially just curriculum which challenges prevailing paradigms which disadvantage certain groups and individuals an emphasis on approaches that promote, for example, experiential learning, critical action research and critical literacies across the curriculum from early childhood years a belief that students can analyse language discourses and social structures which serve to perpetuate the power of dominant groups and the disadvantage of others and use that knowledge to challenge barriers and change society, that is, a belief that education can be emancipatory an explicit effort to ensure that the whole life of the school models the values it espouses for example, just, caring and respectful interpersonal relationships; a range of learning and thinking styles which meet the needs of different groups and individuals; inclusive decision-making processes; a supportive school environment a conviction that all key learning areas have a role in fostering the development of lifeskills which involves combining academic, vocational and personal enrichment processes and outcomes a concern that education should enable each student to develop knowledge, skills, attitudes, beliefs, and values that culminate in a comprehensive outlook on life and which helps them to understand and challenge the powerful structures in society which influence their identities and world views. Advocates of this position may suggest that all of life is educative and that education must be about all of life. Furthermore, they may contend that schooling, as a part of education, must be about more than the accumulation of academic knowledge. This usage tends to highlight particular educational philosophies and pedagogical perspectives. In particular, it emphasises an understanding of lifeskills based on reflexive and critical attitudes to knowledge, and on the belief that students are in the process of creating our future. As such, it is argued, lifeskills 13

Lifeskills: Position Paper

should raise their awareness of this and empower them to critically reflect and act in positive and creative ways. 2. As a title for a cluster of intentional school programs, activities or subjects that seem to have a particular focus on the personal and social life of students.

References to lifeskills in the Wiltshire Report and as repeated in the abbreviated version of this report, Shaping the Future (Office of the Minister for Education 1994), seem to align with this usage:
Years 1 to 8 The core curriculum for students will cover the eight key learning areas of English, mathematics, science, studies of society and environment, the arts, health and physical education, technology, and LOTE. Lifeskills will also be mandatory. Years 9 to 10 Students in Years 9 and 10 will study eight elective subjects five mandatory and three electives as well as compulsory sport and recreation studies, and lifeskills/health and physical education. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Queensland Curriculum Council will decide upon the exact scope, nature and place of lifeskills within the Queensland school curriculum, including the question of provision in Years 11 and 12. Lifeskills/health and physical education could include such areas as human relationships education, active and informed citizenship, ethics and religious education.

The use of the term lifeskills in this way, within the context of a definition of the core curriculum, seems to be affirming that schools have an educative role in relation to each students personal and social development. There also seems to be a recognition within this approach that, because such contributions are seen as essential to a schools educative role and responsibilities, they need to be specifically named and given high status within any formal definition of the curriculum. At the same time, the apparent separation of these programs/subjects from the broadly defined key learning areas may also be a recognition that they necessarily involve students in discussions about some aspects of personal and social life that could be regarded as sensitive or controversial. This might include investigating and critically inquiring into religious beliefs, ethical issues, political philosophies and activities, and aspects of sexuality and human relationships. These issues have already been addressed by many schools and systems over several years for example, in the implementation of human relationships education, religious education, study of ethics and social education. Perhaps the most significant feature of the ways in which schools have addressed these issues is the increasing involvement of parents and the wider school community in decision making about these and other areas of the curriculum. In this second usage, the term lifeskills derives its rationale from particular understandings of the meaning of the component parts of the term. In it, the word life seems to be understood primarily in terms of each students personal experiences, opportunities, challenges, selfunderstanding and wellbeing. Of course, these cannot be understood in isolation from the social and cultural contexts within which each individual lives and is nurtured. Students identities are shaped by factors such as gender, disability, race, class, culture, religion, economic status, ethnic background and the socially constructed power structures that impinge upon their lives. Some of these power structures will operate within the school itself. In this usage, the word skills is used to emphasise that these programs are not limited to advancing students knowledge and understanding of these personal and social dimensions of their own and other peoples lives. There is a deliberate intention that students will demonstrate an ability and a commitment to participate in informed and responsible ways in

14

Lifeskills: Position Paper

activities designed to advance human wellbeing. In some cases, these activities will involve student participation in community services and projects. On other occasions, students may be encouraged to demonstrate an ability to critically analyse existing social structures, service provisions, projects and activities from a range of perspectives including those which focus on social justice, effectiveness and efficiency considerations. 3. To identify highly specific skills that are considered to be absolutely and minimally necessary for all people to function with a reasonable degree of efficiency and success in their contemporary and changing life roles and situations.

There is a sense in which attempts to identify skills closely parallel recent attempts to identify categories of work-related key competencies and basic levels of literacy and numeracy skills. Indeed, most of the definitions of lifeskills being used in schools and found in the literature seem to include particular understandings of the key competencies and literacy skills. The term lifeskills may be emerging as the comprehensive term for all of these sets of skills that our society judges necessary for all students to acquire during their time at school. Throughout the consultative process for this lifeskills paper conducted during 199697, the following four categories attracted support: personal development skills social skills self-management skills citizenship skills. The promotion of highly specific and unchanging skills can be a restrictive and unhelpful use of the term lifeskills, if not associated with an understanding that involves a complex mix of knowledge, skills, attitudes, beliefs, and values, the conceptualisation of different performance modes and the meaning that occurs when they are located in the context of particular key learning area curriculum documents.

15