Curriculum: the subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college:course components of the school curriculum
After an engaging and circular conversation view Twitter the other day, this post aims to provide some context the the title statement. It’s not here as the definitive answer, but some thoughts and reflections. You may find that this is more of a semantic argument than one of real substance and it not presented as the definitive view, just the working one on which Priory Geography’s Schemes of Work are based.
My thoughts on this are defined by working within a National Curriculum and GCSE examination specification system. To me, the curriculum tells me what we should be teaching. Here, specification and curriculum are the same and are set by an outside body. I have no real issue with being told what to teach within a national framework, it’s being told how to teach. In our context, the National Curriculum for England and OCR’s Spec B Geography GCSE Specification sets out most of our content. Everything that we do links to one of these documents.
Why make the distinction? I have come across too many people that blame the GCSE specifications or the National Curriculum for poor teaching. This is one of the main reasons why I found sitting on the GA’s Education Committee so frustrating. Yes, a curriculum can encourage and allow opportunity for innovation, but ultimately it’s the teachers who deliver the lessons who make it inspiring, relevant, innovative, creative….. It's the interpretation of a curriculum document that is most important. especially by school leaders at all levels.
Therefore, although the externally set curriculum and the pedagogy that individuals and departments use are different. They are certainly linked together, but I am yet to see a curriculum document that is innovative.
But what about a co-created curriculum document or one put together by teachers? Firstly, both the National Curriculum and GCSE Specifications already allow room for both co-creation and teachers to decide on what specific aspects should be taught. Secondly, the curriculum document still needs to be interpreted by other teachers and students. From experience, it’s clear that everyone interprets the same document in totally different ways. You only have to look at the activities of Priory Geography to see that. Yes, you can wander between our classrooms and see similar stuff happening, but it’s also different. I encourage an atmosphere in which individual style and interpretation is valued and encouraged.
Indeed, the fact that Gove, the GA, RGS, the Government, the Headteacher, aliens et al are not in our department makes teaching the beautifully creative environment that it is. Do you have to follow exactly the National Curriculum (which has always allowed for extra stuff to be taught) or GCSE Specification to the letter to get good outcomes? No. The energy of subject associations and the government (both local and national) shouldn’t be on constantly changing the curriculum – decide what it is, leave some room and move on to supporting teachers interpret the documents. Just creating the document in itself may score political points but doesn’t help teacher to be creative nor innovative.
Confused? I think that I possibly am The bottom line is that I get very frustrated when I hear of poor teaching blamed upon the system. Give us any curriculum document and I’m fairly confident that we could deliver it in an innovative and creative way.
What do you think?