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What is competency-based learning?

The definition transcends idea of content-based learning

You have probably already heard or read the phrase “competency-based learning”. The term, while not so new, is becoming evident at a time when the traditional learning model – in which the professor is responsible for teaching the content to a room full of students lined up in a passive way – is ineffective at the challenges of the 21st century.

ensino por competências

In order to understand what is competency-based learning, we need to exercise what was discussed over 120 years ago in the late nineteenth century. At the time, John Dewey, one of the leading representatives of Pragmatism theory, said that experiences can be the driving force for the absorption of knowledge. This idea evolved and Paulo Freire, already in the mid and late twentieth century, developed studies and advocated learning linked to experience – practical problems approaching the daily lives of students.

Given the context of experience and knowledge, the concept of competence is born. In Education, the most used definition was conceived by the Swiss sociologist Phillipe Perrenoud, according to which competence refers to the “faculty of mobilizing a set of cognitive resources (knowledge, skills, information, etc.) to solve a series of situations with relevance and effectiveness. “

This definition transcends the idea of content-based learning, which impacts a review of the entire school structure. In a school that works with competency-based education, there is no compartmentalization of knowledge in disciplines, since the problems presented to individuals in the real world are hardly complex and mobilize knowledge from different areas.

At Lumiar, we believe that competency-based learning leads to learning that does not conform to the “know-how”, which founded the education of the twentieth century. The 21st century school must enable individuals to develop themselves personally, professionally, academically and in community.

What is the difference between competencies, skills and content?

One way to better understand how competency-based learning happens is to differentiate between skills, abilities and content. Skills are more abstract and broad, while abilities are more concrete. An example: creativity and critical sense are skills that, in order to be developed, require the student to manifest abilities such as synthesizing, judging and analyzing problem situations. Together, skills and abilities serve to absorb content matrices. In other words: content will always be matched with abilities and skills to make sense.

BNCC Skills

The Common National Curriculum Base (BNCC) establishes that throughout Basic Education (early childhood education, elementary and high school) pedagogical decisions should be oriented towards the development of skills that ensure the essential learning that is the right of each student, regardless of where they live and study.

At BNCC, competence is defined as the mobilization of knowledge (concepts and procedures), skills (practical, cognitive and socio-emotional), attitudes and values to solve complex demands of everyday and working life and to exercise citizenship fully.

All content and skills provided by BNCC are included and can be viewed on Lumiar’s digital platform. By designing each teaching proposal, educators can indicate which BNCC competencies are being addressed. The platform also indicates which skills are required to acquire that competency and which activities are appropriate for the development of those skills.