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Drive, Curiosity, Ethics, Collaboration and Competence Development

November 16th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I have been trying to reorganize my feedreader and picked up this post from June from Jeremy Herbert’s Headspace blog. It quotes a post by Netscape founder Marc Andreessen about what he seeks in new hires:

DRIVE: “First, drive. I define drive as self-motivation — people who will walk right through brick walls, on their own power, without having to be asked, to achieve whatever goal is in front of them. People with drive push and push and push and push and push until they succeed.”

CURIOSITY: “Second criterion: curiosity. Curiosity is a proxy for, do you love what you do? Anyone who loves what they do is inherently intensely curious about their field, their profession, their craft. They read about it, study it, talk to other people about it… immerse themselves in it, continuously. And work like hell to stay current in it. Not because they have to. But because they love to.

ETHICS: “Third and final criterion: ethics. Ethics are hard to test for. But watch for any whiff of less than stellar ethics in any candidate’s background or references. And avoid, avoid, avoid. Unethical people are unethical by nature, and the odds of a metaphorical jailhouse conversion are quite low.”

I think this is interesting and would agree with much of it but it raises some questions. Firstly, I would add a fourth category:

“COLLABORATION. The fourth criteria is collaboration. The ability to work with others is a critical source of learning. Even more so the ability to collaborate is central to developing and sharing knowledge. Collaboration leads to informal learning, innovation and productivity. Collaboration includes listening and valuing other peoples opinions as much as putting forward one’s own.”

The problem is that even if new pedagogic approaches involve curiosity and collaboration for learning, when we seek to assess and certificate competences, these are not qualities we value.

Is it possible to develop new forms of assessment that value drive, curiosity, ethics and collaboration? Is it even desirable that we seek to measure such things? What is the relation between our measurement of general educational learning or vocational skills and knowledge and what might be called the soft skills highlighted by Marc Andreessen.

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One Response to “Drive, Curiosity, Ethics, Collaboration and Competence Development”

  1. Martin Owen says:

    Graham, one reason why we don’t assess these dimensions is that in an “objective” way we do not know how to. Is there progression? What does a beginning collaborator look like, how do we discriminate them from an intermediate collaborator and in what ways does a weak intermediate collaborator differ from a beginning collaborator. Is there development? What is a good kindergarten collaborator? What is a good post grad collaborator?

    It may be this is the wrong language. However if this is the wrong language why? What will be more appropriate?

    Oddly I think I know who is curious, who is a good collaborator, who is ethical………..

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