Curriculum and Pedagogy Exploration
There are different definitions of the term curriculum. Marsh (2003) provides eight definitions of the term and in this context, a curriculum entails all those subjects that are most useful for living in a contemporary society. Therefore, since these subjects are essential for the survival in the community, everyone has to learn them. Thus there is need for a curriculum to guide the whole process of learning.
Through research and working closely with other experienced early childhood education practitioners over the years, it has been deduced in simple terms that in early years of learning, children acquire the knowledge about important things that help them relate and connect with their environment. Learning in this context is mostly through play and generally practical. With this regard, the early childhood curriculum borrows from the framework of the saber tooth curriculum.
A curriculum is a class work or coursework bible. The curriculum guides the learning process of children in school, giving provisions of items that should be learnt, how they should be learnt by the pupils and how the teacher should dispatch these items or how the teacher should participate in facilitating the children’s learning process. The curriculum helps build the academic orientation and knowledge of a child’s school life which will result in a better future if these matters contained in it are engaged seriously. This is because education is the foundation of a prosperous future just like in the Bible where Christians believe that if one lives by the rules of the Bible i.e. a righteous life, he/she is promised eternal life in the great kingdom of God in Heaven.
In early childhood education, a good curriculum is one that puts into consideration many scientific ways of learning any subject. It should also consider full implementation, assessment and reporting. In the Saber Tooth curriculum developed by the New-Fist-Hammer-Maker, learning has been made more practical as New-Fist-Hammer-Maker took his children with him whenever he went to undertake the activities that were key subjects in his curriculum instead of leaving them behind to play at their own will. In the story, it is said that it was more fun to the children to take part in these purposeful undertakings than to play with colored stones just for the sake of it. This shows that he ensured his children would learn all the three activities whenever he would do them by getting them involved. Assessment and reporting was instantaneous in this case as results were either to grab a fish or club an animal or make a fire.When this curriculum became a success he later taught it to his fellow tribesmen and it significantly improved their lives. With regard to this, the curriculum used in modern learning classrooms should function in the same framework. It should ensure full implementation, assessment and reporting to both teachers and parents. It should also include a play in it as a way of learning. For instance, the children should be involved in games that would be either scientifically or mathematically focused to help them develop in these two areas. There should be continuous assessment and reporting of the students’ achievements to both parents and students.
An early childhood education curriculum should have a pedagogical framework; allowing assessment and reporting. The relevance of the Saber Tooth curriculum in this context is what it entails and the outcome as a result of its use. The Saber Tooth curriculum was pedagogical, which simply means the art of teaching a child; from the etymological definition of pedagogy. New-Fist looked into what he could do to make the lives of his children better and later, that of his tribesmen. And he came up with three subjects that would improve their lives’ quality if taught. He looked around his environment and the three things he found were to teach them fish grabbing with their bare hands, horse-clubbing and scaring Saber tooth tigers with fire. This created the pedagogical framework of his curriculum. In a modern curriculum, the writers of a curriculum have to look around them and identify those forces and issues that would have an impact of the learning of children and put those matters into consideration when writing up the curriculum.
In any learning process there must be an achievement or else the curriculum and the whole process of learning would be useless. In addition to this, a curriculum should also embrace innovation and the use of available technology. It should develop the expectations of every student, respond to the achievements of each student and lastly prepare them for the life ahead of them. The Saber Tooth curriculum facilitated the use of technology i.e. the use of fire to scare saber tooth tigers. There was a sense of achievement too in children as they enjoyed doing purposeful activities that earned them food and safety rather than play games just for fun. Outcomes for the saber tooth curriculum included getting enough food, clothing and safety, and generally prepared them to face challenges in the future. For example when the glacier came they had to change their fishing, hunting and safety methods.
Pedagogy simply means the art of teaching a child. A pedagogical framework involves teaching a child using a curriculum that accommodates their local context, knowledge and achievements.Each school has a pedagogicalframework that is jointly developed with the school community to guarantee high quality education focused on the achievement of every pupil. This helps to improve student’s performance and develops efficacious learners because a curriculum having a pedagogical perspective in it embraces the cultures of all members of the community. In return, this improves learning experiences of the students; making learning and schooling generally more comfortable. It also creates a sense of belonging and wellbeing in the schooling system. Therefore the whole idea of a pedagogical framework in summary means putting into consideration and/or integrating the local communities’cultures,needs, expectations and education perspective in the formal curriculum for a formal education system.
A schooling system is expected to cater for the learning needs of all pupils including those in need of learning support, those who require educational support arising from disability, those who are endowed and talented, and those learning English as a second or additional language/dialect, or a combination of these. Students in one classroom may have diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds as well as socio-economic statuses which significantly contribute to the diversity and complexity of student learning needs. These diversities in students affect the modes and teaching techniques; which require the teacher to put them into consideration to avoid biasness and ensure that all the students get the same learning opportunity and attention they require in order to compete equally with others.
Having a partial visually impaired student in a regular class could be challenging for a teacher who has not been trained to teach students with such challenges, but this could be a good thing to have such a student in class. This helps the other students to get a challenge when the challenged child achieves something that they haven’t. Teachers while dealing with students with a partial visually impaired pupil should put the following into consideration:
- Identifying the nature of the impairment and the student’s level of capability before explaining it to the rest of the class that one of them has a problem with their sight. Such a student needs help in class (especially reading assignments and board work) and how the learning environment should be relative to either door: staying open or closed and keeping aisles free of clutters. This should be done in the absence of the challenged student.
- Ensuring that the partial visually impaired students seat on the front rows
- Writing on the chalk board with bright colors and relative large fonts
- Providing the student with a little more space on their desks than others due to the storage of learning materials such as large print books.
- Allowing the challenged student to see objects at a close range; such as walk to the board to see clearly and walk around the class to familiarize with the classroom environment and the objects in it.
- Ensuring that a lot of verbal communication rather than physical gestures are used because physical gestures such as a shrug, wink and smile might be missed by such a student.
- Using routine words in teaching, for example a word like ‘see’ or when mentioning objects in the class refer them by name, shape, location and color.
- Using a lot of explicit language, descriptive and colorful words when addressing a partially sighted student than a regular student.
- Giving the partially sighted students equal opportunities with the other students and exposing them to handling errands and other activities too. Avoid favors when handling matters and instead try to use them as an example to other regular students when the partially sighted student achieves something.
Additionally, other regular students will also benefit from the learning process because many explanations and descriptions will be used. Hence, they would gain more understanding through visualization of the subject in question.
Australian Curriculum Homepage, http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/Home
Australian Quality Training Framework, http://www.training.com.au/ages/menuitem91cdbaeb7a2bc0e2cd9ae78617a62dbc.aspx
Cortes C.E., 1981, The societal curriculum: Implications multiethnic educations, J.A (ed.) Education in the 80’s: Multiethnic education. National Education Association
Donna Pendergast & Susanne Garvis, 2013, Teaching Early Years: Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, Australia
Donna Berthelsen, Jo Brownlee & Eva Johansson, 2009, Participatory Learning in the Early Years: Research and Pedagogy, Routledge, New York, USA
Marsh C. J. & Willis G. (2003), Curriculum: Alternative approaches, ongoing issues. (3rdEdition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.)
Nancy Chick, Aeron Haynie & Regan Gurung, 2012, Exploring More Signature Pedagogies: Approaches to Teaching Disciplinary Habits of Mind, Stylus Publishing, Chicago, USA
Queensland Government, 2013, Department of Education, Training and Employment: P-12 curriculum, assessment and reporting framework, Retrieved August 23, 2013, from: http://education.qld.gov.au/curriculum/framework/p-12/docs/p-12-policy.pdf
Queensland Study Authority (QSA), http://www.qsa.qld.edu.au/
Richard Tinning, 2010, Pedagogy and Human Movement: Theory, practice and research, Routledge, New York, USA