16/01/2019

Dreaming-again

You wouldn’t have expected too much of a wait before more, self-indulgent late-70s nostalgia would make an appearance in 2019, would you? It’s been a week, after all.

The Christmas and New Year Holiday always offer a time for reflection. Temporarily clear from the helter-skelter, hurly-burly of daily school life you have the time to think a bit more creatively about the curriculum offer. And to dream.

So then, an opportunity to now to share my reveries from three weeks ago.

What about if we were able to develop a curriculum which moved us on from the 3 Rs (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic for those under forty!) to 3Cs...

 

Creativity, Critical thinking and Collaboration...

 

Or even, and perhaps alongside, 3Is...

 

Imagination, Initiative and Inquiry.

 

My dreaming about the principles - and more importantly - the outcomes of curriculum construction doesn’t question the importance of literacy and numeracy skills as a basis of effective learning; but it does challenge the way in which this has translated into rigid, subject silos and an examination system based almost exclusively on a series of written, terminal memory tests.

I suppose it suggests that we should ask different, fundamental questions about the contextualised knowledge, skills and values we now want our young people to acquire in order to live rewarding and fulfilling adult lives beyond school.

Those questions might reasonably revolve around the relationship between what students learn and how they learn about it. Aims and methods.

 

In terms of the what of curriculum design, why not ask:

  • Does the content engage and motivate all students, building on their different interests and aspirations?

  • Does it develop their personal skills and self-confidence, and therefore prepare them to enjoy a future lifetime of more autonomous learning?

  • Does it foster their employability skills and equip them with the values and attitudes to become well-informed, active and morally secure members of their communities?

  • Does it spark their creativity?

  • Does it promote their all-round wellbeing, adaptability and resilience?

 

Leading on then to the how of curriculum delivery, consider:

  • How do we best blend teaching methods and contexts to promote effective learning?

  • How are activities sequenced in order to offer progression in skills and understanding?

  • How do we achieve the right balance of challenge, consolidation and experimentation in learning experience?

  • How do we enable students to make connections between what they are learning?

 

It’s in this context that our new Health and Wellness curriculum offer in Years 7 and 8 has already proven so successful and popular. To quote directly from the course description and rationale:

This is a new course for Year 7 and 8 students to promote physical, mental and social wellbeing. The course will lead students through the process of exploring a range of activities which can help them to make healthy choices which achieve physical vitality, social satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment and personal fulfilment.

Students will experience a range of topics including fitness, nutrition, hygiene, self-acceptance, personal growth, relationships, positive emotions and mental health, all of which contribute to a fulfilling and meaningful lifestyle.

Some lessons will be physically active, some discursive or creative and others will involve drama skills, confidence building tasks and reflection on choices we make in our lives. All of these skills will aim to build awareness of how a person can improve their psychological and physical wellbeing, in order to live a happy, engaging and prosperous life.

 

So, maybe not such dreamer after all...

 

 

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