Let’s Make Our Curriculum Contemporary
Research and surveys show that students believe that the present curriculum does not provide them with life skills to meet future challenges. We need to develop a curriculum based on authentic learning tasks and activities. This will include 21st century skills – creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication of students.
According to Jan Herrington (2010), today’s education does not keep up with the current global, social and technological changes that are taking place in the way we live and work. One of the solutions is to provide authentic-learning situations to students, where they can apply their knowledge of concepts, principles and facts to a variety of contexts in the real world.
The figures and facts obtained from research and surveys show that students believe that the present curriculum does not provide them with life skills to meet future challenges. Students’ interests also portrayed their preferences and their global mindedness where mostly students were interested in working out a problem in the society or school. This must inspire us to develop a curriculum based on authentic learning tasks and activities. This is for the purpose of enhancing 21st century skills –creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication of students, and giving them opportunities to apply conceptual knowledge to solve real world problems, which will help them succeed in work and life.
Moreover, the Two Mindsets model by Dweck, C. (2009) features two types of mindsets — the fixed and the growth mindset. The concept of growth mindset promotes the idea that intelligence can be developed when a greater sense of free will, sense of learning through criticism and persistence in the face of setbacks is accentuated, where learners experience real life situations while embracing a challenge. Such features make the learning experience more authentic and real world and appears as one of the essential features in formulating a curriculum to fulfil future needs. Features of growth mindset must be evident in every curriculum design. These aspects of growth mindset must be well embedded and linked to the planned activities well in line with the curriculum intent.
Important components of a curriculum
Therefore, a contemporary curriculum must include the following components:
- The content overview
- The Specific Objectives
- Resources used
- Learning activities-Real life learning and cross curricular links
- Assessment of outcomes
Meeting the objectives…
The content overview must detail not only the knowledge, but also the skills that the students will learn by the end of the lesson. The subject specific skills and general learning skills can be enhanced through learning experiences planned for the students.
Our classrooms are filled with learners of different abilities, readiness, needs and learning profiles. An effective teacher will make sure she modifies or adapts content, learning process and product of learning based on the needs of learners in the classroom.
The specific objectives of the lesson must encourage higher levels of thinking while referring to the bloom’s taxonomy. Students must be encouraged to apply their new learning to solve real world problems, conduct investigations. This will reinforce their learning, encouraging retention and extended learning.
Resources can include websites, apps, books, magazines, models or manipulatives (blocks, beads etc.).
Technology today provides opportunities to help students in the learning process, create innovative products and opportunities for extended learning. It is up to the school administrators to provide opportunities and motivate teachers to venture into the wide expanse of prospects that technology provides for teaching and learning.
Learning is most effective, enjoyable and profound, if it is related to experiences of the student. Hence learning experiences and tasks must be related as much as possible to real life. Linking learning tasks to other disciplines like English, science, math, social science, art, etc. encourages students to appreciate the importance of all disciplines in learning.
Diagnostic assessments provide vital information to teachers about the readiness of individual students in their classrooms. Formative assessments during the course of the lesson informs teachers about the progress of learners and encourages them to modify their teaching strategies and pace to meet the needs of all students in the classroom. Summative assessments offers insights into the attainment of individual students, affording opportunities for remediation and feedback. Our classrooms are filled with learners of different abilities, readiness, needs and learning profiles. An effective teacher will make sure she modifies or adapts content, learning process and product of learning based on the needs of learners in the classroom.
If the above components are detailed while outlining a curriculum, it becomes an effective contemporary curriculum. This will provide a framework for teachers to work on, promoting universal teaching and learning experiences across the country.
Saleena Pannikote is in the education field for the past 17 years. She has held leadership positions for the past 5 years and at present is continuing her learning at Murdoch University, Dubai. She is based in Dubai for the past 11 years.