'Capabilities' are becoming increasingly referenced by academics, educators, industry leaders and policy makers. Their recent surge in popularity might cause some people to think of them as a new or novel concept but this is not the case - capabilities have a long history in education systems around the world.
Capabilities are typically traits or dispositions like creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving and resilience. Australia uses the term ‘capabilities’ but they exist in many international systems under a range of terms, such as 'competencies', 'habits of mind', 'attributes' and 'dispositions'.
Capabilities play a vital role in global education. Australia must treat capabilities with the same respect as other subject areas or risk falling behind international standards.
The Australian curriculum includes four capability areas: Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social, Ethical Understanding and Intercultural Understanding. These are not additional learning areas taught separately to subjects like maths and English - they a core element of traditional learning.