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Children come to school to learn and our current belief about learning is that it is:

  • A life-long mission.
  • Acquiring skills, information or habits.
  • Developing understanding through forming connections

The curriculum is about laying the foundations that will help children deal with aspects of an emerging world that have to be taken seriously by the school. That includes issues of identity, new economies, new technologies, diverse communities and complex cultures.

These need to be the focus of debate, data analysis and collection, higher order thinking and basic skills building.

The design of our approach to curriculum delivery is an attempt to meet the complexity of the challenge of preparing children for 2012 and beyond, empower and encourage teachers, unclutter the curriculum, up the ante intellectually, deliver fewer alienated students, prepare students for a future in an uncertain world, and position the classroom within the ‘global village’.

We also want to provide a framework of action and support to help teachers improve their performance as teachers and to do this in a way that directly confronts the challenges that lie ahead of us.

Knowledge “Wikipedia is an example of people participating in the production of knowledge.” Knowledge has been defined in many ways by countless ‘experts’. Two examples will suffice to show knowledge as a noun:

“Knowledge is the internalization of information, data, and experience. Tacit Knowledge is the personal knowledge resident within the mind, behavior and perceptions of individual members of the organization.

Explicit Knowledge is the formal, recorded, or systematic knowledge in the form of scientific formulae, procedures, rules, organizational archives, principles, etc., and can easily be accessed, transmitted, or stored in computer files or hard copy”.

“Knowledge is the awareness and understanding of facts, truths or information gained in the form of experience or learning (a posteriori), or through introspection (a priori)”.

Recently Information Communication Technologies have forced us to consider knowledge as a verb. “We live in a period when foundational givens of thought are on the move … This is creating a shift in the understanding of reality [that] undermines many of the bedrock assumptions on which Western consciousness is based. … the world shifts to a post-industrial information age…

If one is to be at home in this new world, the means of socialization—in particular in education—must adapt or better still, lead the way. This will require profound change in pedagogy, epistemology, content, delivery models, and organization”.

In her book, Catching the Knowledge Wave? Gilbert takes apart some of our most deeply-held ideas about knowledge and education, and explores the ways our schools need to change to prepare people to participate in the knowledge-based societies of the future. Mary-Ann Mills provided said, that people and children in particular need to participate in the production of knowledge and gave the growth and use of Wikipedia an example of how that is already happening. The rest of this section draws entirely on Gilbert’s work.

The knowledge society is an idea that is widely discussed, but not well understood. Perhaps this is because we need to use knowledge as a verb, not a noun – it something we do rather than something we have. This new meaning is quite different to the one our schools were built on, and because of this knowledge society developments are a major challenge for our schools. Gilbert argues that we cannot address this challenge by simply adding more ideas to our existing structures. We need a completely new framework, one that takes account of knowledge’s new meaning, but that in practice also gives everyone an equal opportunity to succeed.

The book argues that our current education system is set up to serve industrial age, not knowledge age, needs. It works like a production line, using the traditional academic subjects to sort people according to their likely place in the job market. This, it argues, is completely inappropriate as we move into the knowledge age.

If people are to have a job at all in the ‘new work order’, they need more than basic literacy and numeracy skills. Everyone (not just those heading for university) now needs ‘higher order’ thinking skills. They need the ability to be an independent learner, and the ability to go on learning all their lives. However, they also need to know quite a lot – not, as in the past, at the detailed level of traditional forms of knowledge, but at the ‘systems’ or ‘big picture’ level. They also need the ability to work as part of collaborative teams in which the members acknowledge, recognise and build on each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

In contrast to the present system that encourages people to master existing knowledge for its own sake, a knowledge age education system needs to help people (all people) go beyond this. It needs to help people develop the ability to generate new knowledge from old. This move from industrial age to knowledge age is a paradigm shift, not a gradual progression.

One of the defining features of the knowledge age is that knowledge has a new meaning. The old idea of knowledge as ‘stuff’, something we get, and store away somewhere, is being replaced by a new view of knowledge as being more like energy – something that does things, something that makes things happen.<s>Strike-through text</s>

This new view of knowledge doesn’t mean that the ‘old’ kinds of knowledge (the stuff we get to store away) don’t matter any more. On the contrary, old knowledge is the raw material for the new, so we still need to know it.

However, learning the ‘old’ forms of knowledge is no longer an end in itself, as it is in our current education system. We now need to learn it so that we can do things with it: Old knowledge is the raw material for new knowledge building.

The ability to do things with knowledge is now the key skill people need: however people need to be taught how to do this and they need to learn how to do it from an early age (not wait until postgraduate university level).

A second key feature of the knowledge age is a new model of individuality (what it means to be a person), and, as a result, new ways of thinking about things like equality and social justice.

Just as the one-size-fits-all production line model of education is no longer appropriate for developing the knowledge age’s human resources needs, the one-size-fits-all model of equality (as sameness) is not an appropriate framework for thinking about citizenship in the knowledge age. Multiplicity, diversity, difference and hybridity are the norm now. Identity, like knowledge, is now a verb, not a noun – it is always ‘in process’, never finished. Thus we cannot expect everyone to learn things in the same way, in the same order, at the same time (as they do in the production line model). We need new, more flexible, non-linear learning systems.

The new ideas about knowledge and identity are a significant challenge to our current education system. We can’t address this challenge by tinkering with the current system – a paradigm shift is needed.

Currently our collective beliefs about knowledge are that knowledge is:

  • Constructing meaning through interaction and creativity.
  • Understanding demonstrated through interpreting, analysing reasoning and applying learning.
  • Information that furthers the acquisition of more knowledge through manipulation.
  • The ability to understand, transfer and use information.

What knowledge do we want children to develop?

Programme content identifies a body of significant knowledge for all students in all cultures, in seven principal subject areas:

  • Social Studies
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Health/Physical Education
  • The Arts
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • The special character of our school also identifies Taha Maori

These subjects are to be considered transdisciplinary and will be achieved through annual topics to be decided each year by the Curriculum Director and staff.

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