This is a massive question. Naturally, I begin by considering what is unnecessary. Funnily enough, they’re often the pieces of content that parents tell me should be taught more; handwriting, algebra, long division, Ancient Egypt, etc. Isn’t our curriculum full of enough boring subjects?
It seems that the more commonly boring a subject is, the more the general population considers it to be vital for education. I’ve never had a parent say to me, “Why aren’t my children learning to code more?” or “When will you be teaching Robotics?”
In Educating Ruby, Claxton et al. organises the curriculum into 3 parts; Utilities (self-evidently useful ie. read a newspaper), Treasures (culturally and contextually important learning ie. Democracy and Exercise-Machines (processes that help students to develop capacity or learning habits ie. logical analysis).
The questions still remains, what, then, is worth learning these days? Perhaps we might start by considering the real-world practice of the curriculum aspects. Who will use this? When will people use this? How will they use this in the future? Why will this be used? Where will it be used?
Our students also need to be considering the real-life application rather than just complicitly following along. One school gives every student a joker card at the beginning of each term. During any lesson that term, each student may “play their joker” upon which the teacher must explain the relevance of the lesson.
Claxton et al. also states that an Inquiry-based approach to learning is vital for 3 reasons:
- It’s engaging
- It’s accelerating
- It develops habits of mind
… as long as it is structured and supervised and scaffolded.
I’ll finish this entry with the authors’ quote on why Growth Mindset and Collaborative Learning are vital inclusions in the curriculum:
By the time they start school, many children have already started to value looking good over finding out.
I want my students to value learning above all else.