Editorial 27.03.2017 - What is an appropriate curriculum?

Why are the curriculum expectations in England changing? Who is deciding that the path we are taking is the right one? Are we following a path that had the wrong assumptions against which we started a different journey? Are we looking at how a curriculum is delivered in a different country with a different culture and tradition and saying that is the pathway we need to go along without really understanding the implications of this?
Designing a curriculum is a significantly difficult task – we had all sorts of contentious national discussions when we developed the National Curriculum in England in the 1980s. So, what is the fundamental starting point for this design process to be successful?

This presentation illustrates this point very clearly:

Undoubtedly, the vast majority of us would probably agree that the job of the school is to prepare the students for a fruitful and beneficial life once they leave school so that they contribute positively, and within the law of the land, to the community as a whole.

The problem in modern society is that we really don’t know what life in the future is going to look like and we do not know precisely what skills future adult citizens will need to achieve the community goal.

The last few weeks have been very interesting as we see new lead figures in society that seem to be turning the clock back to a society that has no relevance in a modern society that is looking forward. When did protectionism ever succeed? When did bullying your opponents (rhetoric or actual) ever create lasting benefits to society? When did the art of negotiation mixed with compassion and empathy to achieve an amicable solution to a disagreement become something that was not fashionable?

Education is in the middle of all of this. Schools have always been political pawns to achieve future economic growth and even global dominance, but at least we have managed to keep away from indoctrination. However, I do believe that there has been a worrying shift in what is happening internationally and in our schools as a result of this. IS, Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen…. seem to be setting a new political era of extremism that we, perhaps, had thought we had left behind in our aim to develop a type of civilization which probably 90% of us actually agree with and adhere to.

What should we therefore be doing in our schools to ensure we all, in the future, contribute to a society that encompasses all the basic moral values that we need to understand and the skills we will need to make a positive contribution to our communities in the future? Below are a couple of recent articles that take the reality of how we learn naturally because of our own inert desires to succeed and how we might adapt this in to our schools to ensure we achieve what we should be trying to achieve in future generations.

How to become an effective learner at http://blog.iqmatrix.com/effective-learner

Bear Grylls: I missed out on real-life skills as a child

Adventurer Bear Grylls may be able to take on any practical challenge now, but he has admitted that he struggled as a child due to a lack of real-life skills and confidence.
The Eton-educated TV presenter has called on schools to offer more classes offering hands-on subjects ranging from keeping fit, healthy eating to starting businesses.
"I wasn't very good at school, and I struggled a lot with confidence," he told a global skills conference in Dubai.

READ ON to hear what a principal of an all through school in the Middle East is trying to achieve!

Learning happens, we inspire ... what is Mastery?

Tassos Anastasiades, Director Ajman Academy

Why do we stress so much about how well children learn? The imaginative, thinking out-of-the-box vision which embraces digression, unplanned moments enabling children to enjoy and celebrate their learning is now becoming a reality. A skilled teacher has knowledge but more important the teacher inspires the learner to enquire as to whether knowledge is valid, to question knowledge, to question the teacher, Google.... are teachers now the founders of all knowledge - or does the child from Finland, for example, offer more real learning experiences to share in a classroom than the teacher can consider?

The classroom is a life experience. In school, time needs to be creatively orchestrated; ‘less is more’ lesson planning driven by students needs and passions; questioning why, explaining, praising, reflection. Not, please learn and memorise these facts – although, in some instances, there is a valid need for this to improve application. Please let the students loose!

The Passion and Love of learning is not confined to the classroom. Let’s inspire students to joyfully share those personal experiences passions using an I-pad to capture the moment on their personal learning journey and enjoy these thrilling moments in the classroom? We now openly share learning criteria using student speak ‘I can’ statements ...these clearly demonstrate that learning is not linear, vertical or organised, it is mosaic. Moments of attainment anywhere on the learning journey can take place regardless of what is being taught at that moment – the internet is providing more and more opportunities for us all to learn in different ways and the world of reality is changing more rapidly than at any time in the past and will continue to accelerate – Who would have thought, for example, that ‘esport’ coding specialists will create a new audience than live sport within the next few years? A new real life experience which is alien to the vast majority of us! Or a school that specialises on a trilingual curriculum – Arabic, English and Coding (MG)

Memorable classroom practice is created by students sharing their learning and by teachers inspiring them to share their learning.

Making it fun enables students of any age to feel confident about making mistakes, learning from them, and achieving that ‘aha’ moment of breakthrough comprehension.

The fun is learning rooted in risk taking and digression. It’s about the ability to ‘climb inside the learner’s skin’ to imagine and understand that the learner may well have a different way of learning, a different talent a different motivation.

The more self-belief a student develops, the more resilience to learn, to challenge, the more the learning will flourish. All students can play instruments - can’t they? Do you believe this?

We all know that no two learners are the same; yet we give them the same. We know that different students are inspired by their different motivators, their different gifts. Yet we provide them with the same expectations and what they must MASTER by a certain age! But why? Surely? Are we Masters? Early learning goals now relate from 0 - 5 years old. Do we control when a child must walk or say their first sound?

In schools, all should succeed, there should be no failure. The unashamed joy of the student taking charge of their own learning and directing teaching is not a dream. It is a reality where wow moments can be recorded on a learning journey, discussed, celebrated ... the wow moment can happen every day as the classroom becomes every experience in the child's life. For measurement ... educators call ... we need to measure. Yes, we can and when we uncap the measuring becomes easier – it’s like shaking a fizzy bottle and taking the cap off! Are we scared of controlling the fizz? We all know the experiment with fleas in a jar...

The tools are all there for you educators, Kudos to GL assessments, IBT, MAP and others. We can measure alas. But why age related. Can a student not take a ...shock horror ... IGCSE at 11 years old? Or do we still restore the argument - but what will we teach this child when he is 12? CAT 4, 145 - how do we cope???

Let’s focus on the spiritual encapsulation of the learner’s mind in developing their self-belief, confidence, their self-desire ... their self-esteem. Learning rules, curriculum is a guide ... well sort of, as it changes daily in these days of exponential technological development where a child can go on a nature walk and record all the Biology content knowledge on a Keynote, integrated with photos, videos, sounds and indeed deep discussions all within a couple of hours without the teacher knowing where their learning is heading!

Learning is a journey whether it is age-related, above or below. For Mastery is in practice. Mastery changes daily. Mastery is personal.
No longer a dream ... here come the learners...