What will make the difference with this curriculum?

Last month I made comment on the fact we were getting more detailed support in the curriculum and that this was bringing us closer to Cuban’s theory of the four types of curriculum. The four being the formal curriculum, the taught curriculum, the learned curriculum and the assessed curriculum. These four seemed to always develop hand in hand. Despite Mr Russell’s comments in yesterday’s TESS, we will probably still have to teach kids to put their phones away and they will learn how to get around this (taught vs learned curriculum.)

What happens when we look at a policy document detailing the future and vision of the teaching of Mathematics?

“It is more than ever necessary today …. to be numerate…” is a comment that I can not argue with. But despite the cutting edge relevance, I struggle to be convinced by such facts and details.

It is definitely something I agree with but I want to move on to the next important question. “What is the ‘new’ Mathematics?”

In fact, there are great statements here that we all are presumably hearing like chants in teaching monasteries. “An attempt to bring out the ‘big ideas’ of mathematics.” (I am sure my colleagues from other subject areas can replace the word “Mathematics” with any subject area!) There is even an attempt to distance oneself from the evils of the textbooks that precede the initiative – “In the old text-books, the list of contents might run: ‘simple interest, Factorisation of Trinomials,….'” I am going to stand a ground here and argue that a textbook is a resource that will allow us to move from Modelling, Coaching then Fading to build their independence. It is important for children to get a chance to be independent, even in academic study. I fear I am transgressing, let me get back to the point.

There is even a great question that is asked and answered in the document.
“How do we know if these new ideas are any good?……Already children are even admitting that they enjoy mathematics; and this is because they are able to see what it’s all about.”

Before I move on to my reason for quoting all these facts about the future of education, I want to add one final quote in. This is regarding parents. I agree with this one too.

“Parents’ meetings will help to convince them that the ‘new’ work is relevant. The climate has changed considerably …. many parents now feel their children are deprived unless they are “doing” the new Maths.”

I don’t want to give our policy makers too much of a hard time but it is important to note that they will probably pump out stacks of paperwork with this sort of message on it every time we look at curriculum change. It will probably always point out that numeracy is important and that parents must be engaged.

What role do teachers have in all of this? Are we the mechanics compared to the shirts and ties that own the garage? Perhaps the owner was once a mechanic but business rather than passion has taken over as the drive.

Many, probably most, teachers don’t have anything to worrying about with our delivery of education. We are always trying to keep our lessons real world and relevant. I am sure the Taught Curriculum has been like this for quite some time, now the Formal Curriculum is naturally catching up.

One amazing idea about the new curriculum is that we are underpinning real world experiences, children are going home with insights in to the real world and are also coming in to school and sharing their own unique insights with the class. This is facilitated by great teaching, not by policy documents and the like.

That is one reason teaching really NEEDS pedagoo. We need teachers to share what went well and vision and ideas with each other. We are not islands. We all share a passion and like to see how to improve, even if we are amazing teachers, we want to be amazinger or the amazingist teacher in the classroom (I know they are not real words) so sharing and even recycling ideas is not a bad plan.

Previous evolutions of change have not had teachers talking together as much as thing one. This success is not down to the director of Education nor the minister for education. It is down to people using twitter and the wider Internet. We need to hear each other talking about everything that is good about your work. If you can think of one thing you know went well last week, you need to share. It doesn’t have to be a new world resource that is cutting edge and never been seen before. It could be something you regard as normal practice and could provoke a small change for a massive impact. (A pupil asked me never to do starter questions again – Mr McCallum did Monday Madness, Tuesday Twister….. By renaming the starters, they loved it – an example of a tiny change)

As for this policy document, I may add it dates from 1970 and the language of the text sounds like it was written yesterday. Draw your own conclusions about that, we are professionals after all!

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