Graduate Profile & Attributes

I am currently completing a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) through Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) titled ‘Envisioning the Graduate of the Future’. It is a collaborative and exploratory design process to reflect on the purpose of secondary school. Participants are able to convey what their communities believe a secondary school graduate should know and be able to do. And it is free!

Engaging with a MOOC is a very effective way to learn. Learning now can take place anywhere at any time for both young and old. The digital online world has presented countless opportunities for this and it makes me wonder if schools currently tap into this effectively. As teachers, with technology as an enabler, quality learning experiences can be facilitated beyond the school gates.

Some significant shifts in the world are affecting schools. Justin Reich, instructor for this course, refers to:

  • Online Learning
  • Technology and the working world
  • How university instruction is changing
  • Our knowledge of how we learn (science of the brain)

Schools would benefit from unpacking what a graduate profile for their own setting looks like.

Some examples found within the U.S are depicted below.

Sacred Heart College in Geelong has done some wonderful work in articulating learner dispositions.

In starting a new school, I will be asking the questions:

  • What does an ideal “McAuley graduate” look like?
  • What do these students need to learn to thrive in life after high school? Soft skills, enterprise skills, capabilities and competencies, attributes?  What knowledge would they possess?
  • What type of person would they be?

Co-created with input from the community, a profile will ensure a clear representation of key teaching and learning goals and the driving philosophy for the school can be developed around these. With universities (i.e. Southern Cross University, UNE, UTS, University of Canberra, University of Adelaide) and employers increasingly identifying these attributes, particularly enterprise skills, as essential, it is time for schools to recognise these needs and be creative in how they teach and develop them. The Graduate Profile is an important step in ensuring our students are life ready.

The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) report suggests “It’s more likely that a 15-year-old today will experience a portfolio career, potentially having 17 different jobs over five careers in their lifetime“. They argue that such portable skills and capabilities are vital to succeed in the increasingly automated and globalised workplace of what it calls the “New Work Order”.

In returning to the question “what defines a good school”? John Hattie suggests we ask for a “basket of goods” instead of focussing on narrow outcome measures such as NAPLAN or PISA. What should be in the “basket of goods”? Let’s start with the question “what do we want our students to be”?

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