VAST is a way of defining the ‘soft skills’ for success.
Values Attitudes Skills Teachings
With this vision, we need to know our future. Immediately, this raises some issues.
The future is a mystery. We chase a mirage – an illusion that is never attainable?
There is much discussion about automation and robotics on employment. There are business and political pressures on education to meet the needs of the future: a quest to determine the skills vital for tomorrow’s workforce. The attention swings to STEM programs to address the learning needed to function and succeed in an age of rapid technological expansion; one that is ignited by algorithms, processors, memory, statistics and norms.
Policy is legislated to address the threat of technology. And we commit resources, jobs, time on what might be. Governments, businesses, school boards use analytics to graph trends in order to validate judgments: evidence-based judgments.
However, the future is going to be different to how we presently forecast – it always has been. Our predictions lead us to chase white rabbits – we cannot see the wood for the trees.
And we do already know the skills for success that have stood the test of time. These are human skills – skills machines will never replace.
Businesses identify them as soft skills.
To future-proof our community’s future, we should focus on what we know and explicitly teach, exemplify and amplify human traits.
To this end, Living School addresses the VAST scaffold.
VAST is intentionally illustrated using the graphic of a flower. The flower distinguishes our community’s aim to allow every learner to blossom. It does not matter when you bloom, just as long as you do. Schools focus on age-cage races: “you are falling behind”, “this is your level”, “he is very immature” or “catch up”. The VAST scaffold reinforces what we all know – it takes a community to grow and learning is developmental and personal.
The long acknowledged African saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” is significantly real when it comes to schooling. The soil in which a flower grows delivers the environment for success.
In traditional schools the focus is on outcomes based learning. There are two year stages of development. There are attainment targets. This model has its merits – in that it focuses us on what we want children to achieve, and it focuses our attention on purposeful planning in our lesson designs. Outcomes also provide a measure against which we can assess, evaluate and monitor individual competence.
However, let us not fall into the fixed mindtrap of believing the sustained focus on achievement standards underpins quality teaching and/or quality learning. John Hattie’s research notes the further along students get in school, the more of them are performing either behind or ahead of the schedule that’s been set.
The VAST scaffold changes the focus. VAST emphasises capacity.
This distinction is relevant because VAST is never about arriving at a level – at an outcome. Building capacity at any time relies on the conscious intention of the person to be compelled to change: self-growth. And isn’t that a function of a good education? To engage a learner to find a compelling desire to make changes for the better?
The VAST model is graphical – and is displayed for all the community. Every aspect is addressed over the course of each term, each semester, and each year. This is the heart of what we believe.
To understand these elements, let’s explore each in more detail.
Our Values are the new 3Rs.
Attitudes shape our focus on success.
Negative Attitudes undermine our self-belief, damaging our opportunities for success.
Skills used strategically build our capacity for success.