Curriculum clutter is the complaint of many classroom teachers. There’s just so much to teach, and so little time. Cult decluttering expert Marie Kondo recommends discarding the things in our lives that do not ‘spark joy’.
Let's start with some of the basics of the curriculum wardrobe.
It's time to adopt the Marie Kondo method and declutter the classroom.CREDIT:TEN SPEED PRESS
Do we still need to segregate students based on age? Why do we interrupt the progress of the learning journey by chunking the experience into early education, primary, secondary and post-school options? Is there a reason why all students have to graduate at the same time?
If we started from the student, rather than the structure, school would look different.
And with everything we know about learning and effective assessment, why are external examinations so hyped? Is the HSC still the qualification students should take away as a result of their 13 years of school? And is it focusing on the right things?
A less cluttered curriculum would mean more scope to teach smarter by delivering learning across a range of subjects. This is a great way to show students how their learning can be applied to projects and build real-world skills. It would free up teaching time to support students as they pursue their own interests, a big plus when it comes to making school meaningful for every student. Effectively, students would have time to focus on learning how to learn.
A simpler, more supple curriculum would provide the opportunity we need to shape school to better serve students. This could change the world, especially for students who have higher needs than their classmates. My test of whether the NSW government curriculum review response is a keeper is basic: will it help all of us to focus on the needs of individual students? If the answer is yes, that would be something to smile about.
When you start decluttering, eliminating duplication is wise. As we have a very comprehensive Australian curriculum, I’d argue that prescriptive NSW syllabuses are taking up unnecessary space and getting in the way of learning.
Let’s do more by doing less. This would make a serious commitment to personalise learning for every child and allow each student a voice in what and how they learn.
It would also give teachers more room to move, in recognition of their professional expertise.
Greg Whitby is the executive director of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta. Follow him on Twitter @gregwhitbyLearn more about Greg