Another thread of the Rudd Government’s ‘education revolution’ has been the establishment of the National Curriculum Board to oversee the development of a national K-12 curriculum in the key areas of English, mathematics, sciences and history (many will remember similar initiatives in the 80s and 90s).
Any national curriculum pathway, created without the full collaboration of States and school systems, is guaranteed to be a very rocky one – which is why the need for extensive discussion and cooperation now.
Quite apart from the present initiative, I believe it’s important Catholic educators, to participate in – and even initiate – a widespread conversation on curriculum. We must never become mere agents of someone else’s educational agenda.
The first challenge is to establish a clear and shared understanding of the term ‘curriculum’. Some definitions confine themselves to subjects and content, or teachers’ intentions and specific learning activities, or, more recently, expected learning outcomes.
Narrowly interpreted, such definitions have been the starting point, and ongoing preoccupation, of the curriculum debate for a long time.
My argument is that given the social and technological realities of today’s world, these narrow understandings of curriculum have reached their used-by date. The key is convincing those outside the education sector of the need for a new, dynamic curriculum construct that is responsive to today’s world.
I come back to Daniel Pink’s hypothesis that in a conceptual age, we need a curriculum that reflects creativity and empathy, and above all, one that is grounded in a coherent world view about life and learning.
This is the time for educators and systems to challenge curriculum constructs that are basically content-driven or, even worse, assessment-driven – especially when such assessment is confined to those aspects of learning which are easily measured.
Let’s support any move to bring curriculum into sharper focus by giving it an important place in our ongoing professional conversation!