Curriculum Shorts (Some short musings about curriculum)
Pedagogy, ‘the method and practice of teaching’ (OED) was all the rage a few years ago. The all-singing-all-dancing ‘outstanding’ lesson as defined by lesson observation tick-lists was the elusive elixir that could be sprinkled throughout a school to ensure great outcomes for all. Thankfully this mirage has been exposed. The focus on performative teaching and, short-term, shallow, learning as exemplified by a mini-plenary every twenty minutes and the ‘lesson plan pro-forma’ distracted teachers and their managers from the really important role that long term, thoughtful, curriculum design has on helping ensure a successful education.
Now that there is a welcome discussion occurring in many schools about curriculum design, will there be a shift of focus away from pedagogy? Will the ‘how’ of teaching be left to the individual teacher as long as they are seen to ‘implement’ the ‘intended’ curriculum?
If you listen to some people’s ideas on this, summed up by the phrase ‘we all teach knowledge’ you could be lulled into thinking that pedagogy is not something to worry about. As long as the content is being taught, it really doesn’t matter how. But it does, it really matters. Whether it is through the insights from cognitive psychology, the nature of the subject being studied, the disciplinary knowledge, and the values that form a school’s and/or department’s ethos, the way of teaching the content of a curriculum needs to be thought about at the same time as the sequencing and selecting of the knowledge being taught.
It’s not just the what, when and where, curriculum design also needs to address the how.
And also the why…