Since I dipped my toe into the world of curriculum reform with the new Junior Cycle here in the Republic of Ireland, I have been interested in the various reactions the process has received.
These have ranged from the hugely positive to total negativity.
I have personally experienced both reactions and the process in general has seen varied responses in the media.
Morris and Adamson (2010) in their work Curriculum, Schooling and Society in Hong Kong describe the process of reform as messy since it is trying to meet a wide range of economical, political and social goals (p45).
I concur with them on that. But could it be any other way? Teaching and learning often is messy. We try to uniformly blend classrooms and schools but things rarely work out like that.
One issue that bonds us tightly in Ireland are the state examinations.
If there is to be true Junior Cycle change, the exam in its current leaving-certificate-lite format must change (Leaving certificate = final High-school examination).
With change in the systems of assessment, will come the space for a variety of teaching and learning experiences, that if deployed attentively will bring all students forward.
It is important however that these assessments be clear and well defined. There was an interesting tweet recently about this point.
Great point about the importance of kids having a tangible “finish ” line, often don’t know what it’s like to compete anything.#educon
— Jason Markey (@jmarkeyAP) January 25, 2013
I am sure the debate on assessment will take center stage once the revised syllabus for the teaching of English in the Junior Cycle is published. I sincerely hope it is not a debate in reductionism but a debate about how we can raise teaching and learning of a subject central to our lived experience.
Photo credit: The Wall Street Journal.