Some interesting articles in the weekend papers calling for the teaching of martial arts and alcohol education in schools to address the issues of bullying and binge-drinking.
It seems that whenever there is a need to change behaviours or address attitudes we look to the curriculum. Is this the role of a curriculum? Is it the responsibility of schools?
If the role of schools is to promote the growth of students and their learning – to teach students them how to be critical thinkers and responsible citizens, then shouldn’t this naturally lead to a change in behaviours?
I think the calls to introduce things like for example, alcohol education, while important social issues, only muddy the waters. As John Hattie has said debate seems to be fixated on the test-outcome-based questions rather than an intelligent debate about what is worth ‘preserving in our society, and what is worth knowing in order to live the desired ‘good life’.
In an era of information and curriculum overload, it is important for the profession to discern which knowledge is significant and timely. Just-in-time learning (learning that is relevant to students’ lives) must be given priority over the just-in-case learning which can so easily crowd the learning.
As Michael Fullan says we must be relentless focussed on the things that actually make a difference. This means continually reminding ourselves of what’s really important in the work of the school. Martial arts and alcohol education may be helpful but is it essential?
Education Minister Adrian Piccoli made an excellent point in relation to alcohol education, which is parents also have an important role in educating their children. Pauline Lysaght, Associate Director Early Start at the University of Wollongong believes that while teachers are influential in reinforcing behaviours within the school context, the responsibility for establishing a knowledge base and encouraging behaviours rests with parents.
When there are vigorous calls to continually pare down the curriculum (similar to Singapore’s approach), why do we waste valuable time proposing ways of over-loading it?