New idea after new idea, curriculum initative after curriculum initiative descend on schools with increasing frequency. Schools and staff hardly have time to consider and digest one new idea before the next one arrives. School is a place becoming increasingly frenetic and often decidedly unsettled. That is not what education should be about.
Published in the ‘Suns’ newspapers in September 2015. This subject was relevant ten years ago and will have that same relevance (if nort more so) than ten years from now.
EDUCATIONAL PREDICTABILITY NEEDED.
Education so often seems to involve roundabouts and swings. As a profession it attracts more commentary and contribution than any other occupation.
Quality education is founded on the application of research. That research is often quite extensively tested before being released and recommended as part of future practice. However, the volume of ideas being passed down from governments, to systems and then onto schools can be quite overwhelming. Often very little time is given for the acceptance and embedding of initiatives before they are changed again. This means that school programs are in a constant state of flux.
While many overseas systems have national curricular applying to all schools within the jurisdiction, that is not fully the case in Australia. While “National Curricular” is the flavour of current discussion, adaptation is staggered. This means that implementation is largely dependent on the resources of States and Territories. Authorities also have the right to determine if, how and when National Curriculum guidelines will be introduced. There is no uniformity or overall plan about the way this is being done.
Another anomaly is the belief that new ideas have never been previously tried. National Curriculum is an example of this thinking. During the 1980’s an attempt was made to introduce a curriculum with uniform application across Australia. States and Territories cooperated during planning stages. At the end of many months, involving time, travel and endless meetings, a national plan was created. Implementation however, was a failure. States and Territories were not prepared to surrender their own identified curricular to a national agenda. Tens of thousands of curriculum and subject documents were permanently shelved then destroyed.
Thirty years later in a new era, nationalisation is again in favour. Timing may be better but until all systems are using the national curriculum in step with each other, the initiative is still in a developmental stage.
A real danger about the floods of new ideas being dumped onto our educational systems and schools, is that school leaders and teachers are grappling with new directions and constant change. This can be unsettling for students. Change needs to be carefully orchestrated. Shifts in emphasis are often based on sudden urges to move educational focus in new directions. That is very destabilising for schools and students. New directions are necessary, but change should be managed within a structured context. To be ad hoc in introducing change creates suspicion and builds resentment.