Has the national curriculum exceeded its usefulness? In a fast-changing multi-cultural world isn’t it time we scrap it for something more flexible?
All the Yes points:
- The National Curriculum is the product of a factory system designed for a world that no longer exists.
- The National Curriculum does not provide personalised learning since it is an instrument of mass instruction.
- The National Curriculum has stifled creativity (the generation of ideas) and innovation (the addition of value).
- Local variations
- The national curriculum is capable of substantial improvement
All the No points:
- The National Curriculum provides reference points of achievement for parents and government.
- The National Curriculum measures standards.
- The National Curriculum sets standards for the Teaching Learning Programme
The National Curriculum is the product of a factory system designed for a world that no longer exists.
Mainstream schooling in Britain was designed to create a compliant, obedient workforce for the factories. It is overly dependent on strict subject delineation and is now over-crowded with subjects.
This form of schooling has been edited out over the years as the Industrial Revolution turns to the Technical Revolution. No longer are we taught our sums ‘parrot-fashion’, discipline has transformed from corporal punishment, dealt out to the criminals who originally went there, to much more lenient yet effective punishments, and the system allows for an all-round, effective education in many subjects.
The National Curriculum does not provide personalised learning since it is an instrument of mass instruction.
The scale of student numbers eliminates the possibility for true personalized learning. Students are increasingly disengaged from the learning process as they come to regard it as irrelevant to them. The silent majority get by by keeping a low profile.
According to Howard Gardener’s “multiple intelligences theory,” there are nine DISTINCT different intelligences or learning styles. Which are:
1. Linguistic Intelligence: the capacity to use language to express what’s on your mind and to understand other people. Any kind of writer, orator, speaker, lawyer, or other person for whom language is an important stock in trade has great linguistic intelligence.
2. Logical/Mathematical Intelligence: the capacity to understand the underlying principles of some kind of causal system, the way a scientist or a logician does; or to manipulate numbers, quantities, and operations, the way a mathematician does.
3. Musical Rhythmic Intelligence: the capacity to think in music; to be able to hear patterns, recognize them, and perhaps manipulate them. People who have strong musical intelligence don’t just remember music easily, they can’t get it out of their minds, it’s so omnipresent.
4. Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence: the capacity to use your whole body or parts of your body (your hands, your fingers, your arms) to solve a problem, make something, or put on some kind of production. The most evident examples are people in athletics or the performing arts, particularly dancing or acting.
5. Spatial Intelligence: the ability to represent the spatial world internally in your mind — the way a sailor or airplane pilot navigates the large spatial world, or the way a chess player or sculptor represents a more circumscribed spatial world. Spatial intelligence can be used in the arts or in the sciences.
6. Naturalist Intelligence: the ability to discriminate among living things (plants, animals) and sensitivity to other features of the natural world (clouds, rock configurations). This ability was clearly of value in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in such roles as botanist or chef.
7. Intrapersonal Intelligence: having an understanding of yourself; knowing who you are, what you can do, what you want to do, how you react to things, which things to avoid, and which things to gravitate toward. We are drawn to people who have a good understanding of themselves. They tend to know what they can and can’t do, and to know where to go if they need help.
8. Interpersonal Intelligence: the ability to understand other people. It’s an ability we all need, but is especially important for teachers, clinicians, salespersons, or politicians — anybody who deals with other people.
9. Existential Intelligence: the ability and proclivity to pose (and ponder) questions about life, death, and ultimate realities.
The national curriculum fails to cater to all of the above learning styles because the national curriculum uses model lessons (all students are taught the same things the same way). Therefore teaching under the national curriculum is ineffective in several cases and should ‘scrapped’
[source for Howard Gardner’s 9 intelligences: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/education/ed_mi_overview.html%5D
The education system has only limited resources. Without a ridiculous small ratio of teachers to pupils, a system that teaches a broad range of basic skills to everyone is the only option, and hiring lots of teachers is impossible, dependent on higher taxes and having a wealth of adequate teachers available. Neither of these conditions will be met, so a general system as we have already is the best option.
Personalized learning does exist under the NC. While the curriculum outlines what knowledge is to be taught, the teacher plans their lessons to suit the individuals within their class based on their particular strengths and weaknesses. It is known as differentiation and is an essential part of lesson planning.
The National Curriculum has stifled creativity (the generation of ideas) and innovation (the addition of value).
Strict adherence to command and control school management and subject areas of teaching has limited opportunities to explore the art and skills of thinking. Students may know but do not understand. The essence of learning – to ask questions and make personal sense of the world – has been taken away.
Having a national curriculum merely standardises what is taught across the country, giving equal opportunity to all. It doesn’t mandate that every teacher uses the same approach in the classroom; this is an argument against bad teachers, not the national curriculum.
The national curriculum does not allow for enough local variation. It is important for children to learn the values of things such as local history, accents and dialects. We are not all the same and school should reflect that.
I’m going to give a United states example to strengthen this argument.
Under the national curriculum, the information taught to our youth (state history in this example) will be chosen by a committee presumably not from the the state the material will be taught in. I don’t want someone telling my teacher to teach history that really isn’t Idaho history, but the committee presumably won’t know that because there’s probably not someone from Idaho on that committee.
Also, because the government chooses what will be taught, some historic events that reflect poorly on the government or incites fear about the power of a government and what it can do will no longer be taught and, in essence, won’t have happened. The Holocaust, for example, that shows the power of government and political corruption, will no longer be taught and in a few generations nobody will remember, and “Those who do not remember their history are condemned to repeat it.” We don’t want another holocaust to happen. The national curriculum should be done away with… now, and forever.
If we abolish the national curriculum, anything could be taught and students would have even less equal opportunities. The UK currently has the biggest attainment gap between private and state schools than any other country in the world, and this would simply worsen the gap. It also means that religious schools could teach only creationism and ignore scientific theories, so many students would not receive a well-rounded education.
The national curriculum is capable of substantial improvement
The present problem is that the curriculum is too comprehensive. It tries to squeeze all children into the same mold.
We need a more flexible policy to allow for individual aptitudes and interests. However there should still be a more limited core curriculum. Maths and English are essential to enable us to function in modern society. Schools should be required to ensure the highest possible standards in these subjects. Then they should be encouraged to offer any other subjects which the pupils and their parents want. If the school successfully imparts the motivation to learn, the particular subjects they study are much less important.
The National Curriculum provides reference points of achievement for parents and government.
‘Staging posts’ of success within the National Curriculum provide benchmarks which inform policy decisions.
The Blair/Brown government is obsessed with targets, though their effectiveness seems marginal to say the least.
The national curriculum does not effectively measure achievement in either students or teachers. Especially under a national curriculum that uses merit based pay. Using standardized tests encourages “teaching to the test” (teachers giving only the information that is required to pass the test). Now all our students are do is MEMORIZE and REGURGITATE information… as opposed to actually UNDERSTANDING the material (so as to be able to apply what they have learned). Overall standardized tests are ineffective at providing the information you argue that our policy makers need, because the results are often artificial.
The National Curriculum measures standards.
Parents and policy-makers can use the data from national measurements to provide frameworks for improvement strategies. Standardisation offers targets against which poorer-performing schools can set themselves.
The problem is that parents don’t want to send smart kids to bad schools, so any problem identified by the standards will likely lead to fewer and fewer good children going and the school sliding down even further.
National curriculum isn’t effective at making good measurements. (See my above argument)
The National Curriculum sets standards for the Teaching Learning Programme
If there is no statutary standards set by a higher authority, different institutions and individual teachers could tend to experiment on their whims and fancies
The ‘Higher Authority,’ referred to is a group of “Educational Elite,'” having little or no experience of the realities of how children can be taught and learn and which is appointed by a Contemporary Government Elite also removed from contact or unity with the public it is supposed to serve. Both of these elite groups responsible for the central administration of the education system actually proliferate their own “whims and fancies” knowing that whatever they decide and whatever the outcomes, it will not affect their own children. The education they create for other people’s children, the children of less important people, cannot be the same as the education they create for their own. The private complaint of the elites, enhance by a general contempt for the masses, is that large sections of the population are uneducable, when at the heart of the problem lies the belief in the idea of a single, all-purpose criteria and methodology.
We would love to hear what you think – please leave a comment!