Offering 0pen and Honest Professional Advice
The New School Curriculum - hgunn.uk
The fact that the National curriculum was overloaded cannot be disputed. The problem was that the subject working parties for the curriculum were commissioned to advise on their subjects all pushed their individual subjects interests to the nth degree. The school standards war that arose meant that in secondary education that subject teachers were competing to get their children to do well in their subjects summative examinations, such G.C.S.E. or they would get castigated by their headteachers.
The problem is that even cognitive scientist cannot precisely clearly define what intelligence is. We do not know in deep cognitive terms how any curriculum blends together to create an educated child. There is a distinction as Dylan Wiliam (2018) between classroom performance, what children achieve in a lesson, and learning, what is committed to long-term memory storage. There is the issue of recoverability how easily children can recover, rekindle they have learnt, but cannot bring to mind.
Children are human beings. They cannot become encyclopedias. We are not glorified computers. The brain is very plastic. They will not be able to keep active every detail they will learn in given lesson or series of lessons. 50% of factual information is lost within an hour of learning it.
There remains a distinction between what children have securely learnt and what they can recover for assessments. The problem with all summative, end of course assessments is that some children, especially those with higher working memory, will be more able to effectively revise for them and more confidently perform in them.
Assessments of what children have learnt is not an exact science also. There is evidence in the Far East that children are be drilled through after school lessons to do assessments more effectively, such as through constantly practicing sample questions and tests. Teachers in all high stakes assessments will be inclined to teach to the test also. What will be assessed will not be children's capability.
There has been a constant demand for what should be included in the school curriculum for the public good. Learning is a process of cognitive growth. There is the issue of how much attention needs to be given to specific things to have an impact on learners. This degree of attention needed for each child will unlikely to be equal
The fundamental dilemma with second languages learning, where the new language being learning is not all around learners, is the issue of subject depth and breadth. There are risks in learners learning too broad a language content superficially. A suitable breadth of curriculum for certain children will not be one for others. There are, and there can never be simple answers to developing a suitable curriculum for children of all learning potential.
The Times Education Supplement review () of the curriculum, which referred to a range of authorities in their field, illustrates how complex the issue of developing a curriculum is. Over simplistic, solutions to complex educational problems will always lead to superficial results. It is very easy to cite ideals in education, but the problem lies in translating those ideals into practice.
The feature of the present is that it is associated with certainty. The future is unknown. Promised educational reform does not necessarily mean it will be delivered. Education has a history of promised educational improvements that have not delivered as Dylan Wiliam (2011) cites.
This the curriculum aims and objectives for an English primary school:-
deeper learning by providing contextualised opportunities for pupils to develop
skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, creativity,
character and citizenship.
We think these skills are timeless, essential human skills of ingenuity that have supported human development and success throughout millennia. We don’t think, as some seem to, that they’re specific to the 21st century. Synthesising knowledge-rich and engaging, world-relevant curricula in a primary context in Learn-AT means planning the curriculum in meticulous detail.
This includes integrating opportunities and experiences to engage children in purposeful, meaningful learning, to develop non-cognitive capacities such as resilience and self-regulation, and to nurture the ability to collaborate or an understanding of citizenship."
Alexander Pope stated that “When many words about little sense is found”. It must seriously be questioned what the above means, how it can be delivered, and even if it is delivered, how such qualities can be assessed.
The Winds of Change
The has been growing evidence arising from cognitive - neuroscience research is that children’s learning potential is not and can never be equal. The importance of working memory is now being widely recognised and that working memory has an influence on children’s attainment. Sue Garthercole contends that working memory remains the most reliable indicator of children's school attainment. This cannot be changed.
The research of Plomin () geneticist compliments Sue Gathercole conclusions. He asserts around 50% of all human attributes, including intelligence, is dictated by genes. He contends that any given level of learning, learning will be more difficult to achieve for certain children than others and that education increases the differentiation of children’s attainment. This is consistent with working memory.
There is also the research of Sweller () on cognitive load. He argues that expecting children to learn through problem-solving creates an unnecessary cognitive load on learners. He argues structured learning experience offers more effective learning experiences. This view is supported Dylan Wiliam (), who lectures on learning across the world. He arguments that fluent knowledge reduces the cognitive load allowing learners to apply problems more successfully. In simplest terms, attempting how to solve the problem, detracts attention from what needs to be learnt and creates uncertainty.
The main aim of the National curriculum was to create applied learning skills. The Cockcroft Report (1982) found that children were able to do ‘mechanical sums’ and even pass examinations, but they were generally unable to apply what had been learnt. Problem-solving became the aim of maths teaching. This does not necessarily mean that learning through problem-solving in the most effective way of developing problem solving skills.
Neil Thomas () neuro-scientist educationalist has contended that education has had a history of changes of fashion and that developments in cognitive science will provide a greater certainty of what should be practised. Cognition provides a more certain bottom-up vision of the practice. Dylan Wiliam () contends that a poor curriculum taught well is better than an excellent curriculum taught badly.
Hirsch () refers to France and Sweden, who had developed an excellent elementary curriculum, but they wrecked their education through giving too much autonomy of schools to developed their own curriculum. He argued it was undertaken in spirit of attempting to improve their curriculum. The evidence is the ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ has not delivered its promise of school standards in Scotland.
The problem with developing any new curriculum is that words are too inadequate to define what is required. If the concept of a knowledge-rich curriculum is considered, for instance, it sounds impressive, but it allows those who read it, to put their own interpretation upon it. Whole books can be written upon it. Schools are unlikely to advertise they are offering knowledge poor curriculum.
Cognitive and neuro-scientists are still striving to define precisely what intelligence is. Even the purpose of education is not explicitly clear or what it is important to teach. Maths is viewed as being important, but what is important about it is less clear. This applies to all subjects in the current. Even if children are taught the whole curriculum, not all children will not actively retain ever detail of it.
Daniel Kortz (), who consider curriculum development in his book, “The Assessment Charade” contended that there always ‘trade-off’ in developing a curriculum. There are inherent risks in totally abandoning the classic curriculum and creating new high ambitions that may proved to be speculative.
There is evidence that Ofstead in England are policing the freedom of schools to create their own curriculum through referring to the old National curriculum requirements. It must never be forgotten that the National curriculum was introduced because of inconsistency in the curriculum and concerns about standards in schools.