Source: European Educational Research Journal, Volume 13 Number 3 2014, pages 338‑349.
Since the 1990s, national curricula and education systems have reflected call for education, to reflect the needs of the twenty-first century knowledge economy.
Education systems reflected this call in their focus on technology and shifting pedagogy to increasingly constructivist paradigms that aim at the development of competencies rather than the acquisition of knowledge.
However, despite these shifts in thinking about education and the process of schooling, there remains evidence that national education systems continue to experience lingering problems of under achievement, especially of marginalised students.
This article focuses on the knowledge–competencies nexus in the context of ‘twenty-first century learning’. It raises several questions:
Does the interest in competencies devalue or undermine knowledge?
Does a social constructivist paradigm necessarily dismantle disciplinary knowledge?
What is the relationship between knowledge and improving the life chances for the marginalised?
Against a critical background discussion of ‘twenty-first century learning’, these questions are addressed by considering and synthesising three perspectives on knowledge in relation to their particular critique of education, what they say about knowledge, and the bearing this interpretation has on how they view pedagogy and curriculum.