Photo by Wiros on Wikimedia Commons
Here's another response to a question I received from participants during the recent webinar I presented for EDEN. You can watch the entire webinar on YouTube at this link. The question is one of several I couldn't answer in full because of time constraints, so here is the question again with a few additional thoughts:

A major challenge at the moment, especially for teachers, but also translated to students, is keeping up with the curriculum. This limits the possibility of allowing students to learn on their own and finding their own path of learning. This period could be a window of opportunity in personalised learning, in finding students finding "their own pathway." How do you create a balance?

Frankly, I don't know how to answer this question. I'm not sure anyone does. I don't think it's possible to create a balance, because currently, most school curricula are over-stuffed and content heavy. Saying this in the past has meant I've laughingly been labelled an anti-intellectual, but I'm not against content and I've always championed teachers and education. I would just like to see more balanced curricula in our schools. 

The situation isn't likely to change very quickly. It's not the fault of teachers, or even school leaders. We see a 'just in case' curriculum being taught in most schools because successive government education departments have insisted that every subject is covered, and that every student is tested on everything the curriculum contains so that it can be demonstrated that teachers have been 'doing their jobs'. Some might consider this to be cynical, and you can call me any names you wish, but in the words of Tom Petty - I won't back down. A lot of the content children learn in school is there for one reason only - to pass tests. It is promptly forgotten as they move on to real life. I'm going to avoid the trap of offering specific examples, because if I do, some Smart Alec is going to try to show that that piece of knowledge is useful in some way. But if you're honest, you'll look back on your school years, and wonder why you had to learn certain knowledge, because you never, ever had a reason to use it again.

Some would argue that the over-stuffed 'just in case' curriculum is responsible for a lack of time for other activities such as creative expression, transferrable skills or entrepreneurship. It's certainly the reason there is little or no opportunity to pursue personalised learning in schools. Personalised learning (not to be confused with personal learning) is rarely possible because there is simply no time or space for it. A 'just for me' curriculum is anathema to most government education departments, because it would be considered to be too expensive. So most countries persist with the tired old, tried and tested bloated curriculum that prepares children for the past rather than the future. 

This isn't going to change unless some global crisis happens that forces everyone to stop and think about how we could do things better. 

Oh.... wait.

Creative Commons License
Finding a balance by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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