A good quality curriculum Values all children as individuals Is based on a clear understanding of modern, broadly accepted concepts/understandings about how children learn Promotes teaching practices that reflect these concepts of learning Reflects that decisions and choices made during the curriculum development process are made in the interests of learners. A curriculum that is based on this approach is often referred to as‘learner-centred’ or ‘child-centred’.
What does this mean in practice? What does a ‘child-centred curriculum’ look like?
Firstly, the clearly stated broad aim of the curriculum will be to be inclusive–to assist every student, regardless of ability, gender or social and economic circumstances, to reach their individual potential as learners. Each student is different. Not all are academically gifted. Not all can be ranked first in assessments. But all students can be encouraged to do their best, and good curriculum will take account of each learner’s personal, social and cognitive development in helping them achieve their potential.
Secondly, the curriculum will be forward-looking and prepare learners for the future through the development of broad competencies. It will acknowledge that, while still important, the learning, retention and repetition of knowledge will not alone ensure successful lives. The 21st century will be very uncertain, constantly changing and throwing up new challenges. It will require people to develop and apply new understandings and to adapt to new ways of doing things. Across subjects and learning areas the curriculum will need to develop student competency in such areas as Communication Collaboration Critical thinking and problem-solving Creativity Managing diversity peacefully and constructively Learning to learn, giving students an enthusiasm for learning and the skills to learn independently throughout their lives.
In other words, it will provide space for teachers to adapt the curriculum to suit the students in their classes. It will not demand that every student learn exactly the same content in exactly the same way and in exactly the same number of hours. It will provide teachers with the flexibility to ensure that the treatment of the content is appropriate to their students’ needs and Capabilities. In developing approaches to differentiation, the curriculum and the pedagogy it promotes will acknowledge that students learn in different and individual ways. Some students are very effective and skilled listeners, others require visual stimulation and others learn best through practical exercises. A good quality curriculum will encourage teachers to get to know their students and ensure that their teaching style and their classroom behaviors are directed towards achieving the best learning outcomes for them.
Finally, the curriculum will describe and promote a new role for the teacher.
The teacher’s approach will shift from ‘I am here to teach’ to ‘I am here to facilitate good learning’. With this approach come a new, individualized teacher-student relationship and a desire in teachers to encourage inquiry and curiosity. Similarly, the teacher in the role of assessor should use assessment not just to test how well content is learned, but to understand the strengths an dweaknesses of individual learners and to ensure that planning future classroom activities uses this information.