Personal Competence
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Personal Holistic Competence

Dr Neil Hawkes, IVET Founder
Written on 21/10/14

When VbE is at the heart of 21st century schooling it develops what may be termed personal holistic competence (PHC).

Traditionally, schooling has focused on the development of technical competences such as the 3r’s. In modern times these capabilities have widened to include science and technology. These subjects are externally examined through a complex examination system. In comparison, personal and social competencies such as emotional and psychological literacy are given little time and status. The curriculum has become increasingly imbalanced, with the emphasis focused on the academic and cognitive. This has resulted in the affective aspects of the curriculum being seen as of less importance. Ironically however, there is an increasing demand for employees to have so called ‘soft skills’ in order to be successful in their careers. These skills include: communicative competence, relational trust, self and other awareness, resilience, agency and ethical intelligence, which are seen as of central importance in developing the mindset required by business leaders.

VbE argues for a balance between the development of personal and academic capacities with the result that students are empowered to develop holistically - able to meet the challenges of living as well as being prepared academically. The outcome of VbE is that students develop the overarching competence of personal holistic competence.

This multidimensional competence cannot be measured in the abstract through traditional written exams - only observed as a whole in real life situations. It is demonstrated in performance in complex relational situations in the world. PHC therefore is as an overarching competence, which equips students with the values, attitudes and behavioural traits that are increasingly needed to solve complex personal, social and work related challenges. It enables students to develop the ability to work effectively in relationship with others to meet important challenges in an ever-increasing complex world - multidimensional challenges, such as balancing the various demands that modern life brings. PHC foregrounds relationships and qualities, such as compassion and emotional intelligence and cannot be observed or exercised except in relationship with others.

The development of PHC requires the right conditions to nurture and sustain it, hence the urgent need for values-based schools and colleges.