By Graham Foster BSc, Dip Ed Admin, Dip Tchg

Curriculum Integration is just one aspect of curriculum development, learning, teaching, technology and assessment. Current research seems to show that we may need to consider partly removing the curriculum basis of subjects from Year 1 to 10 and substituting Multiple Literacies so that we might develop more progressive teaching, learning and assessment programs.

Dr Susan Blake (paper yet to be published) indicates that 21st-century Capabilities and Competencies are recognised internationally as crucial skills for students and that integrated/interdisciplinary curriculum (IC) is recognised as an effective teaching/learning model to address these. She discusses each orientation on a continuum of curriculum integration. She believes that the Continuum view of IC may be a useful way of demonstrating it variety of form, and it might describe stages of professional development that educators go through as they experiment with increasing degrees of integration.

Interdisciplinary – Fusion – Multidisciplinary – Interdisciplinary – Transdisciplinary
Curriculum                                 Curriculum          Curriculum                  Curriculum

The 2017 paper from Prof. Stephen Lamb, Dr Quenting Maire and Esther Doecke at the Victoria University, Melbourne indicates that

Recent analysis examining trends in technology, the economy and the labour force shows that the world of work is changing. Based on an analysis of trends in the work of Australians each year, a new study has predicted that ‘as technology reduces the need for workers to complete routine, manual tasks they
will spend more time focusing on people, solving more strategic problems and thinking creatively’
(FYA, 2017).

This has led some to the view that as well as deep and broad knowledge in key disciplines, students will need a range of skills and capabilities, including creative and critical thinking and problem
solving, in order to thrive in the future world.  This received close and concerted attention from policymakers, researchers and practitioners. They identify the following skills to be most important:
• critical thinking
• creativity
• metacognition
• problem-solving
• collaboration
• motivation
• self-efficacy
• conscientiousness, and
• grit or perseverance.

The New Zealand Curriculum 2007, the skills are identified in terms of the five Key Competencies. These five KCs seem rather vague (perhaps to enable their development across all learning areas) and hardly recognisable as ‘skills’. However, the meaning of each one is developed in the national curriculum, including the skills that each type of competency requires. For instance, ‘thinking’ refers collectively to the skills of critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving and metacognition. ‘Managing self’ encompasses student motivation, positive self-efficacy beliefs and locus of control, and resilience (i.e. grit). Meanwhile, ‘relating to others’ draws on key skills such as competition and cooperation (Ministry of Education, 2007a).

The New Zealand curriculum contains most of the skills listed above. While students need to be given opportunities to ‘become self-reliant, critical, and creative thinkers; to be team players; to learn to use initiative, and to engage in ongoing learning throughout their lives’ (Ministry of Education, 2012). the existing policy documents give very few indications about how teachers and schools are meant to achieve these outcomes.

The national curriculum provides little guidance as to how students are expected to learn and teachers to teach these skills. While connections between curriculum areas and the key competencies are presented in another document (Ministry of Education, 2007b), it only details learning outcomes across skills. The ways in which this form of learning is meant to occur is unclear. It really appears that little guidance is provided in terms of assessment, and there does not appear to be a systematic approach to teacher professional development to facilitate the desired transition between ‘traditional’ and 21st-century learning. In short, it appears that New Zealand has developed a subject-based curricular mode of engagement with key skills for the 21st century.

Additionally, we have new evidence from
New LinkedIn Research: Upskill Your Employees with the Skills Companies from https://learning.linkedin.com/blog/learning-thought-leadership/most-in-demand-skills-2020
and
Global Risks Report from https://www.oliverwyman.com/ourexpertise/insights/2020/jan/globalrisks2020.html?utm_source=exacttarget&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=risk-report

These reports highlight the need for Aotearoa NZ politicians, educational administrators and teacher-educators to look for evidence and influences brought about by international changes.

As New Zealand Teacher-Educators, politicians and education administrators re-structure and re-design the New Zealand Curriculum for the next 30 years, as proposed by Hon. Chris Hipkins, Parliament, it is extremely important that we are very aware that we do not become too introverted and lose sight of the 4th Industrial Revolution research regarding both skills and dispositions for 21st Century Education ™ and Future Ready Education™.

Therefore, New Zealand must find a way to change the emphasis in its teaching mode. In 2008 Margaret Bendall from NZQA/MoEd indicated in her talk at EGGS to all staff, that the NZC was intended to reduce the emphasis on subject-based learning to about 60% of the pre-2007 NZC level so that the Key Competencies could be implemented and developed through Rich Tasks and other cross-curriculum programs. That reduction and development have not happened to the extent intended. So it is important to find an intervention that might improve teaching, learning and assessment of 21st-century skills and Competencies. My research into the development of Multiple Literacies, and the external development of programs such as Concept-Based Inquiry (Carla Marschall and Rachel French) and perhaps curricula such as the International Baccalaureate, IB, may offer ways to develop a more Integrated Curriculum that offers the opportunity to teach, learn and assess 21st-century skills. That, of course, will require huge support for senior management, teachers that include on-going professional development and support.

“Living in NZ, a long way from the wider world, the risk of introspection is high. The temptation, too often, is to stay at home, stay within our comfort zone, and be content with what we know and what we have. Yet in today’s world, where everything is connected, but technology sometimes advances at the expense of humanity, where surrounding yourself with like-minded connections and only listening to those who share your own view is easier, and more dangerous than ever, it would be easy to get caught in a manufactured bubble.”  From NZ author Jennifer Andrewes, ‘Parallel Lives.’ (2017)

While this non-fiction book’s statement is really about the comparison between lifestyles for a New Zealand family that took their children to France for an extended living experience, the parallel strands this statement infers brings to 21st century economics, IT and AT, industry-commerce, educational reform and social development for Aotearoa is extremely relevant and must be considered seriously.

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