Curricula have historically described the subjects and the content that needs to be studied and tested, but that notion is changing, and emerging curricula is now addressing the capabilities and understandings that learners now need to become independent lifelong learners.
We have identified eight domains that a curriculum should now encompass, and the diagram briefly describes these domains.
There are four infrastructural domains, and they are:
- Technology to drive learning.
- Educators to become researchers of their own practice.
- Developing innovative learning environments that better meet the meets the needs of educators and learners.
- Using assessment to drive learning rather than merely a summation of learning.
… and the four pedagogical drivers involve:
- learners developing the necessary competencies
- learners understanding and being able to apply the Learning Process both independently and collaboratively
- the development of learner agency over their learning which is achieved via the development of their competence and an understanding of, and how to apply the learning process
- the need to shift to a conceptual curriculum and have learners learn in the same way we learn to drive!
A brief outline of the four infrastructural elements:
- Technology for Learning: Schools provide technology, but we need to ensure that learners can make use of that technology, in a way that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of learning. Learning using technology requires a wide range of capability sets that need to be learned explicitly. This includes creating effective semantic fields (sequences of words), to be placed into search engines, YouTube etc. Learning using technology also requires learners to be able to assess the credibility of resources that they find and how relevant they are to the work they are doing. These are high-level capabilities. Use of technology requires increasing expertise.
- Educators as Researchers: Educators must become researchers of their own practice. Too often, educators are too quick to jump onto bandwagons and international trends in education. Educators need to research whether the changes being encouraged actually contribute to improvements in the outcomes they wish to attain.
- Environments for Learning: For learners to take greater agency over their learning they need to be working in environments that can respond to the different and changing needs of the learners. Their needs are continually changing as they move through the various stages of the Learning Process. Learning environments need to be flexible to accommodate individual learning needs as well as collaborative learning needs.
- Assessment for Learning: Historically assessment has focused mostly on creating a summary of the learner’s ability to remember facts, complete labelled diagrams and do this neatly. The purpose of assessment within this new paradigm is to guide learners in building understanding and being able to apply that understanding creatively to be innovative and ingenious. Assessment, therefore, becomes a continual process of driving the refinement learners understanding and the ability to apply that understanding.
A brief outline of the four pedagogical components include:
- The introduction of a Global Conceptual Curriculum:The emerging model of how the brain learns demonstrates clear advantages for learning via conceptual frameworks that allow us to build ever deeper understanding and apply that understanding creatively.
- The ability to own and apply the Competencies:The competencies and skills enable learners to take increasing agency over their learning, to truly become independent lifelong learners. The ability of the learner to have the competency to manage their own learning, changes the very nature of the role of the educator, to one where we are increasingly asking the questions rather than providing the answers.
- The ability to apply the Learning Process effectively:Understanding how to apply the Learning Process to become a highly efficient learner is critical in a world where we are all expected to be able to learn anything, anywhere, with anyone, ‘on the fly’, in almost every aspect of our lives.
- Increasing learner agency:Having agency over learning allows us to become independent lifelong learners who are capable of successfully transitioning into 21st-century communities and workplaces.
Introducing learners into Innovative/Modern learning environments is a two-year process. The level of competence required for young people to self-manage within these environments requires considerable competence and an understanding of how to apply the learning process successfully. The introduction of learners into the spaces needs to be managed very carefully, and in many cases, educators are making considerable assumptions about the capabilities that our young people have and their ability to cope and self-manage in these spaces.
A school’s responsibility is to ensure that the necessary infrastructure and pedagogical processes are in place so that learners can develop the capability of becoming independent lifelong learners and take agency over their learning. We have been talking about this as an outcome for education systems for almost 50 years. We now have the technology, understanding and the capability to turn this into reality for all learners, not just a few. The role of the educator shifts from lecturer and knowledge owner, to being the questioner and provider of prompts to stimulate curiosity.
So… the final question: Are we bold enough to make these changes or do we sit back and watch our profession become increasingly irrelevant? As a profession, there is only one choice, and we need to address this issue urgently if we are to prepare young people for this century and not for a romanticised bygone era.
Mark Treadwell, conference speaker and consultant, works with schools and presents globally at conferences on the future of learning. You can access a list of the topics Mark speaks on at http://bit.ly/2tng2ZB
We currently have 2-3 places open to schools in New Zealand and Australia that would be interested in working with Mark in an ongoing project working through the implementation of the competencies, the learning process and the conceptual curriculum over a three-year timeframe. Email Mark for details of this process and what is involved: firstname.lastname@example.org