Teaching and Learning in the Twenty-First Century

In the book-turned-movie The Martian, Matt Damon plays Mark Watney, an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars and then is later rescued. Viral blog posts have suggested that had this really happened, it would have taken about $200 billion to rescue him. What they do not mention, however, is that even $200 trillion would not have been enough, were it not for some critical competencies displayed by Watney’s fellow astronauts, scientists, and Watney himself. 

Using Cognitive, Interpersonal, and Intrapersonal Competencies

The cognitive competencies, which include not only critical thinking but creativity and innovation, deployed in the rescue mission are obvious: Watney’s knowledge as a botanist serves him well as he innovates to produce life on Mars, and NASA and JPL’s combined technical creativity finds a way to communicate with him and also brings him home. But the intrapersonal competencies exercised by Watney in monitoring and marshaling his emotions to work up the hope, motivation, and determination to survive against all odds are remarkable. Equally critical are the interpersonal competencies exercised by Watney’s fellow crew members on the space shuttle and the American and Chinese scientists, as they tap into their professional and personal responsibilities, and cooperative and teamwork abilities, to bring him home. Money alone would never have been enough to solve problems none of them had seen before, much less had been taught to solve—indeed, cognitive abilities also would not have been enough. 

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