Saturday, 22 July 2017

Today's environment could be a catalyst

Today this article came up on my facebook feed.

https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/03/23/tossing-out-teaching-by-subject-as-part-of-a-modern-high-school-education/

Which is quite an old article, but talks about how Finnish schools are phasing out subjects, to value contextual learning, and learning through projects.

When we examine the New Zealand Curriculum, we normally skip straight to the back, where individual subjects look like they dominate, and have major priority (indeed it was the first thing I was taught to look at.)

But if we look at the front we see a very different story. We see quotes like this:
While the learning areas are presented as distinct, this should not limit the ways in which schools structure the learning experiences offered to students. All learning should make use of the natural connections that exist between learning areas and that link learning areas to the values and key competencies. 
-New Zealand Curriculum pp16
 And this:
Schools may, for example, decide to organise their curriculum around one of these three aspects (values, key competencies, or learning areas) and deliberately weave the other two through their programmes. Alternatively, they may decide to organise their curriculum around central themes, integrating values, key competencies, knowledge, and skills across a number of learning areas. Or they may use another approach or a combination of approaches.
-New Zealand Curriculum pp 37 
The structure of New Zealand's schools, (especially High Schools, but still some Primary) of students walking from subject to subject, or classrooms going through reading, writing and maths time is built on a model which is out-dated, inadequate, and one take on a Curriculum that is broad and agile.

Finland has lead the way to show schools how to integrate and make learning more meaningful for their students. Schools around the country need to think about the why of what they are doing, and to challenge themselves to ask "is this really the best thing for these children?" Because it is not the curriculum that restricts you from changing - it is your mindset, it is the "way it has always been done" which is not the same as "the way it should be done."

There are schools all over the country who are starting to explore integration, and starting to challenge the traditional model. Usually these are ones who are remodelled into innovative spaces, or new builds that take advantage of the change, but it doesn't need to be. This kind of learning can be done anywhere, from an old school, to a new one, from a barn in someone's back yard, to an empty field.

The buildings don't make the learning, you do.

1 comment:

  1. I admire your willingness to identify the qualities in the NZC Mr Broom. Hidden qualities? Evidently not.

    Clearly the pressure to compartmentalise our educative environment into well defined areas does not come from our 'broad and agile' curriculum (a lovely description!)

    So what is the restrictive force that continues to champion an archaic education, purpose built for the process of industrialisation? Is it our taste for measurable outcomes? Or maybe our averse approach to risk taking and our fear for the unknown?

    One thing it most certainly is - People like my step-mother, who proudly proclaim that "what we need is more reading, writing and arithmetic. If you can't spell properly then your CV won't even get looked at!"

    *cough* SPELL CHECK *cough*

    The world looks pretty broken to me right now. More of the same isn't going to change that situation.

    Albert Einstein once said that "we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them". Go figure.

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