It seems that in the past couple of decades, more and more new curriculums are springing up, each one claiming to enhance the student’s learning. But why do we need a new curriculum? If it’s not broken then don’t fix it right? Wrong. It’s more broken than people think. The current UK curriculum is most visible in this regard, and despite having some of the brightest minds graduate out of UK Universities each year, the country isn’t attaining the same rate of success with its schooling system, and there’s one reason why. It’s outdated.
The UK curriculum was originally designed to be used during the Industrial Revolution and World War eras. The government at the time wasn’t interested in developing new technologies, aesthetic styles or philosophy, the government was simply looking to output a large number of flesh components into the stream in the factories that powered a post-colonial British Empire. The country had become dependent on the industrial revolution following the loss of the empire’s colonies and the gap between the rich and the poor had widened dramatically. This left the poor with little choice but to be processed into another part for use in the factory and worked until they could work no more.
As you can imagine, the curriculum was focused around spoken English, Mathematics and Science with little emphasis on anything else, many schools disregarded the arts and didn’t teach them at all, believing them to be a waste of time, all the while buckling under the pressure of the government to output well-spoken, literate and diligent workers with a basic knowledge of arithmetic, physics and chemical compounds (and subsequent reactions). And as you can also imagine, those who were in austere positions had no choice but to undergo this ‘education’ and be processed out the other side ready for the factories.
This left those who had been processed without imagination, ambition, mental flexibility and reasoning. With no knowledge of art and no idea of how to attain further knowledge or conduct thorough research, these poor individuals had the difficult lives of industrial labour ahead of them, and all just to earn enough to stay alive. In the end it wasn’t how your mind worked that mattered, it was simply the ability to remember and regurgitate information. All that was tested in the long run was one thing, memory.
Times since then have changed dramatically and we see government benefits supporting families in tough times, this should, as you’d imagine, push the standard for education. Sadly however, it hasn’t. Today the same issue persists: How to truly develop intelligence. And today the answer is the same as it always has been, since the rise of the Industrial era: Develop a good memory and learn to talk.
It’s not all doom and gloom though! Since the 1950s, new education methods have been researched and studied extensively as new curricula have risen. Today, we see several new curricula bursting to enter the international stage including Montessori Education, the International Baccalaureate and the Reggio Emilia Approach.
Developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori, the Montessori Education method allows for the student to move within the classroom space to take up a variety of activities which are aimed to both guide and engage the student with education. The method employs a discovery model which aims to avoid direct instruction and rather just simple guidance from a tutor of sorts. This freedom with each class allows the child, from a very early age, to develop a high degree of cognitive understanding of subject matter and how to approach it in a way which encourages them to think freely and actively about knowledge.
The International Baccalaureate is being introduced all across the world at a variety of levels including in a Primary Years Programme, a Middle Years Programme and a Diploma Programme. This allows students to obtain their qualifications at multiple levels and utilizes a philosophy that looks at sixteen distinctive study areas across two categories; Ways of Knowing which incorporates Sensory Perception, Reasoning, Language, Emotion, Intuition, Imagination, Faith and Memory, and Areas of Knowledge which incorporate Natural Sciences, Human Sciences, Arts, Mathematics, Ethics, History, Religious Knowledge Systems and Indigenous Knowledge Systems. These aim to guide a student to not only a higher level of understanding at a base level for each subject matter but also it aims to encourage students to engage further with the subject matter and pursue it at a higher level.
Teaching children following the post-World War II era in and around Reggio Emilia, Italy, Loris Malaguzzi developed the Reggio Emilia Approach to education. This entails the student having control over the direction of their learning and encourages the student to develop a better degree of sensory perception as well as develop social skills through interaction with other students. He finalizes his method with the belief that all students should have the opportunity to express themselves in order to truly develop their full potential and sees students as something closer to apprentice figures, looking to develop skills rather than simply be talked at.
These methods are sure to revolutionize the world in future years to come and are already making very big moves, seeing purchase and installation into schools all over the planet. These methods strike a balance between the old method of teaching while applying a human touch to the mix, allowing students to develop real life skills and a better flexibility of thought as well as an ability to think more creatively, rather than keeping to the same old tried-tested-and-failed method of memory and regurgitation alone.
SeekTeachers works with students and teachers all over the world and is constantly keeping its information on these subjects up to date, make sure to check our jobs page for all of our International Baccalaureate, Montessori Method and Creative Curriculum jobs!