This paper first appeared in The Classroom Connection, Vol. 7 No. 4, October-December 1999. The Classroom
Connection is now out of print but at the time was published by:
Research Publications Pty. Ltd.
27A Boronia Road
Vermont, VIC 3133, Australia
|Compulsory, universal education has only been with us for something over 100 years. In the early days of this social experiment, the learner was thought of like this ...
A 'blank tablet' into which could be inscribed the appropriate wisdom of the Western World.
More recently we have rediscovered that which was known for thousands of years earlier to the educators in the family, the extended family and the community:
|Education begins with people; whole human people who have an integrity and a self-image formed by all their past experiences and within which they operate.
THE PURPOSES OF EDUCATION
We need to be clear about why we choose to act counter to the education processes of history by enclosing all children in brick boxes six hours a day to be educated. Those purposes are:
To develop people who display:
- a willingness and capacity to think using a variety of strategies
- a willingness and capacity to communicate with a variety of people using a variety of forms
- a willingness and capacity to interact with the spirit which dwells within
FUNDAMENTAL LEARNING STRATEGIES
Consider the 'thinking' purpose. There are fundamental strategies which successful thinkers use regardless of their area of interest.
working with others inter-dependently in various groupings: mixed ability, friendship, homogeneous
using senses to select input from discussions, physical activity, natural phenomena
making sense of information based on current understandings
theorising about future happenings based on current understanding and experience
rehearsing any future action through thinking, discussions, writing, diagrams
collecting information, analysing, and formulating tentative answers to questions generated by the child, group or teacher
saving information in tangible ways which can be retrieved for future analysis
explaining action taken and reasons why; a process of clarification for both learner and teacher
altering a component of a situation or problem; looking at the elements of a situation or problem and posing a 'what if' question where one or more of the elements are changed and the consequences investigated
sharing information to facilitate personal understanding and the understanding of others. This includes questioning, discussion, explanation and may be oral, written or pictorial. This process may be assisted by technology such as tapes, videos and computers
|Curriculum 2000 places the learner in contexts which have teaching these fundamental learning strategies as their principal aim.
At this point we are fortunate to be able to quote from an explanatory paper on education prepared by a teacher from the year 2099.
Where it existed pre-Curriculum 2000, teaching of learning strategies was subject-based and not part of a big picture. Only a very few children realised there was any process to acquiring knowledge.
Fundamental Learning Strategies are the big picture consistent with the purposes of education.
In Curriculum 2000 the action and the rhetoric match. Whatever is being taught, some or all of the Fundamental Learning Strategies are being deliberately illustrated. The language matters and the consistent use of the same language by all teachers is paramount.
THE PLACE OF CONTENT
In Curriculum 2000 the focus shifts to using content as a servant to teach Fundamental Learning Strategies and enhance the learner's self image.
Content is neither for its own sake, nor to build a parochial picture of a subject area.
Each discipline has its own concepts and processes which create its body of knowledge. These overlap with the Fundamental Learning Strategies and are highly valued for that reason.
Each discipline also has a collection of tools and skills which are regularly used. Over time, learners need to add these to their personal toolbox and become proficient at using them.
The day to day tasks are chosen to develop concepts and skills, but, are taught in a manner which deliberately re-emphasises the Fundamental Learning Strategies. There are usually many ways to teach any particular content. Curriculum 2000 teachers consistently and intentionally select those which help learners perceive and retell the bigger picture. Curriculum 2000 students are, simply, learning to reason.
Across a Curriculum 2000 school, the whole is a web of interconnections originating from clear and succinct purposes and from constantly applying the same set of learning strategies.
|It is a richer learning experience than that too frequently faced by pre-Curriculum 2000 learners...
You are invited to debate any of the statements listed, or add statements which the text has generated for you. You are also invited to communicate the essence of your deliberations to the editor.
- The listed Purposes of Education are necessary and sufficient conditions for high quality education.
- There is an alternative set of purposes of education which is at once as succinct and as powerful as those listed.
- The ten Fundamental Learning Strategies listed provide a complete list of ways of knowing.
- The children's learning will focus on learning to reason if all teachers at all times assist students to relate the current task to an agreed set of Fundamental Learning Strategies.
- All content in all subject areas can be taught in a manner which illustrates Fundamental Learning Strategies and enhances the learner's self-esteem.
[The Fundamental Learning Strategies listed are from Hammond, Vincent & Williams (1996/5/3) Mathematics Learning For Life 1/2/3, Oxford University Press, Melbourne p.3]