Other times it can feel like a masterpiece, an exciting masterpiece that challenges my thinking. Sometimes just two little paragraphs can be read and re-read - did that just say what I think it said?
So, I was in good company about 6 weeks ago. Rebbecca Sweeney was facilitating a cluster workshop and she was discussing the possibility of a 'Cluster Curriculum'. I was very interested in this, because I would like our school to re-develop our school curriculum.
My new favourite part of the curriculum is Page 37
The School Curriculum: Design and Review - From New Zealand Curriculum to school curriculum
I don't know if it was the way Rebbecca read this out (with expression), or that I was in the right headspace, or the context I was in (new space, new people) but I had comprehended this page in a way that I have never had before:
"The New Zealand Curriculum identifies values to be encouraged and modelled and to be explored by students, key competencies that students will develop over time and in a range of settings, and learning areas that describe what they will come to know and do.
Schools need to consider how each of these aspects of the curriculum will be promoted and developed in teaching and learning. They can do this in different ways.
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.
The values, competencies, knowledge, and skills that students will need for addressing real-life situations are rarely confined to one part of the curriculum. Wherever possible, schools should aim to design their curriculum so that learning crosses apparent boundaries." (NZC pg 37-38)
For some reason schools tend to promote learning areas well above the Values and Key Competencies. Learning areas always seem to come first and then then Values and Key Competencies are woven through. How many of us have planned a maths session, then looked at all the Key Competencies and have found that 'they all fit'? Of course they do!
I do not believe that I have ever been in a school culture that does not use the Learning Areas to explain what is happening around the school.
For example - "What is your class doing for maths today?" is a fairly normal question to ask a teacher in a NZ school. "We had a great writing session today!" is also a thing you commonly hear, as is "I am thinking of changing Maths to the morning, the kids are more settled then."
But this kind of talk only takes place if our local school curriculum has chosen to organise their curriculum around this one aspect (Learning Areas). Why is it that we have this wonderfully flexible curriculum yet the vast majority have gone with Learning Area first - then weave through the 'Others'.
What if we were to develop a school curriculum around another aspect - let's say Values?
"How are your students exploring Community and Participation today?"
"We had a fantastic session with the students around Excellence today!"
I think that the weaving through of the Learning Areas would not be as contrived.
We could then have discussions such as:
For Community and Participation a group of students are creating a mural. The learning area they are exploring today for this is visual art, however last week they had to obtain permission from the council which involved more of an oral and written language focus.
This stands in stark contrast to this old chestnut:
For Maths today a group of students conducted a survey. They had to manage themselves, think, participate and contribute, oh yep and they related to others when they were asking each other the questions.
Further, putting the Learning Area aspect first means that this is what is taught (while the values and key comps are 'checked off'). Whereas if we were to put the Values first - they are learned about and explored which then requires a very authentic reason for the Learning Areas to be launched.
I need to write the council an email. Can you show me how to do this?
I need to display excellence with my rabbit hutch design - can you show me how to measure precisely...