What does curriculum mean to most of us? Is it a guiding book or document OR a path, expected to be followed? If it’s seen as a guiding book, then it’s expected to give an overview of the ideals and expectations to be practiced and achieved. If it’s seen as a path, then it’s expected to give clear and specific details about what must be done at every stage of teaching and learning, along with a glimpse of how things should be done.
With the changing times, the nature and scope of curriculum have only been expanding. We now want the curriculum to be comprehensive and progressive and make it a guiding document as well as a path. Hence, while designing a comprehensive curriculum, we must throw light on the guiding principles and the steps to be followed or taken to turn the guiding principles into realities. A progressive curriculum is always open for redesigning, reviewing, and renewal. So, while designing a curriculum for 21st century schools and learners, we must acknowledge the values and practices that existed in the past and do a bit of repackaging (if necessary) to meet the needs of today’s learners.
For example, experiential learning theory has nowadays taken many other forms like project-based learning, activity-based learning, expeditionary learning, etc. In fact, the very origin of these types of learning can be traced back to the traditional questioning method, dialectical method, learning by doing method, etc. Another example is the theory of holistic development which in today’s time is often seen as the whole-child approach. Is a curriculum able to incorporate these age-old and yet core educational values and practices with a fresh approach? Is a curriculum capable of making a school the final destination for those who are seeking progressive knowledge? These are a few questions, answers to which every education professional connected with curriculum designing must seek.
Let us now understand what all makes 21st century learning.
Literally, it would mean the teaching-learning processes and practices prevalent in the current 21st century. However, when we go deeper, we understand that the teaching-learning practices should help us facilitate the goals, today’s individuals and societies are trying to achieve. Can you think of a few buzzwords making the rounds in the 21st century? What are we trying to achieve mostly in the 21st century?
I prefer to mention here three buzzwords starting with an “I” – Identity, Information, and Innovation.
Identity – We are constantly trying to become more conscious of “Who we are” and “What makes each one of us unique”.
Information – We are all blessed with unlimited access to information, coming from different parts of the world.
Innovation – This is the time for newer ideas and solutions, developed through technological and non-technological means.
The 21st century curriculum has to allow the learners to form their unique identity, use information intelligently and responsibly, and find solutions to today’s pressing issues through innovative ideas, prototypes, designs, etc.
There’s an order in this whole explanation and realisation process. It begins with the formation of self-concept, which keeps on expanding with the help of information technology, and we find greater purpose in life when we start thinking of solutions for the betterment of the larger society. I hope you are also able to visualise that “Information” (being in the middle) provides support to both the other “I” words.
If these are the goals and targets, we are trying to achieve… If these are the expectations, we have from a 21st century curriculum… then, the following components must be mindfully incorporated in the curriculum.
- Scope for interdisciplinary teaching and learning
- Emphasis on 21st century values, beliefs, and skills
- Scope for making learning experiences adaptive and personalised
- Focus on competency-based, experiential, and active learning
- Integration of traditional and modern ways of teaching and learning
- Blend of national and global perspectives
- Making assessments an integral part of the learning cycle
It’s very important to have clarity about the goals we strive to achieve through a curriculum – goals that are not only individualised and nation-specific but are also desired by the ever expanding and growing global community.
Remember, that the success of a curriculum also depends on its effective implementation, or else, it will remain a mere road map. So, choose the implementation strategy or the road carefully because “the road we take makes all the difference”.
As a supporter of ‘progressive education’, we believe that post the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is implemented, a lot of schools will have to bring in a radical change in the way they facilitate knowledge creation, knowledge acquisition, and knowledge sharing. ‘What they teach’ will change and there will be a sea change in ‘how they teach’ i.e., casual teaching will get replaced with planned and informed teaching. To put it in other words, a lot of schools will have to get into ‘Whole School Transformation’ and must redefine their pedagogical practices to a great deal.
P.S. We are a team of progressive education professionals and on a journey to discover, share, and co-construct knowledge. Please feel free to share your feedback and thoughts on the topic.
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