Thursday, 3 November 2011

Are some curriculum areas more important than others?

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by macattck

Like most principals, they are busy people.  I sat down yesterday for over an hour (which I have never done before in one hit) and had a detailed discussion with my principal.  The major purpose of my discussion was to discuss / explore how I was going to spend my $5000 prize money that I won from the Smart Classrooms award this year.  He had some solid ideas that I took on board.  We then got onto a number of whacky tangents and one was discussing a possible model of delivering some key learning areas in our school differently in the future.  It was something that I was totally in favor of and it certainly stimulated my thoughts.

Then last night, this video came across my stream.

If you haven't already noticed, I am really into video. I think that it does a great job telling stories and helping explaining concepts. This video really got me thinking about how I value certain key learning areas.  Let's be real - as a primary school teacher, it is very difficult to give all of the curriculum areas the justice that they deserve.  We are so focused on the so called 'cornerstones' of the curriculum that some things get pushed to the side and don't get given the justice that they deserve.  In my environment, one of those areas is The Arts.  I am no painter, but I appreciate the fact that I have a responsibility to give my students a well rounded education that caters for their needs.  The surprising thing is that all through high school, I studied Speech and Drama and loved it.  But within my classroom, I barely use it.  Why is that?   

So this video explores the notion that The Arts has as much value as the 'big ticket curriculum areas' such as maths and language.  Do we agree with that? I am not sure if I do.  My son is entering Prep next year (and he is pumped up about it) and I guess I am starting to look at things with rose colored glasses.  Having both a mother and a father for a teacher is not a great combination for our poor boy.  We went to his interview and I said to the deputy principal that I wanted a teacher that would encourage my child to solve problems and let his inquisitive nature shine.  But I really want him to get a rounded education but still be literate and numerate.

The best parent teacher interview that I ever had with a parent occurred last year.  At our school, we do interviews twice a year.  The first one is done about two weeks into the school year and the second one is done half way thought.  Obviously the first one is always a bit tricky.  You are basically just telling the parents you initial impression of their child and they raise any concerns that they may have.  One of my parents from last year had a really good boy, who was a fantastic student.  This father walks into the interview and after the opening pleasantries makes the greatest statement that I have ever heard a parent say ever.  He said:

Ashley I don't care if my son bums out on NAPLAN, gets straight E's on his report card and fails everything miserably.  All I want out of his education is for him to be able to be creative and be able to work in a team.  

After I picked my jaw up from the floor, I asked him why.  His son was a great boy and does exceptionally well academically.  His response was just as good

Whatever job that ...... does when he grows up will require him to solve problems in creative ways and work with people and be able to get along with people from different walks of life.  It doesn't matter if he is a brain surgeon or a street sweeper; they will teach him the skills that he needs to undertake the job.  Being able to be social and solve problems creatively are the most important things.

It was awesome and it was great to see a parent just get it but how does this relate to this blog post.  I believe that the message that he was selling me was reflected in the ideas explored in the video.  It is very difficult to find that balance but looking back at the ability to work creatively and solve problems that don't have the obvious answer should be the goal of every educator.  I think that the power of creative subjects is that they can influence the thinking of students if used in the correct way.

This was a bit of a ramble.  I would really like to hear from you about the original question - Are some curriculum areas more important than others?

Looking forward to your thoughts.

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