A learning organization is an organization:
• where people continually experience their capacity to create the results they truly desire
• where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured
• where collective aspiration is set free
• where people are continually learning how to learn together
(Senge 1990, The Fifth Discipline)
Today I spent a couple of hours listening to Lester Flockton talk about the revised New Zealand Curriculum at the University of Otago. It was a jam packed two hours and I have included some of my notes below. These are mainly pointers for school leaders looking at where to start when thinking about implementing the curriculum.
Development of the new curriculum:
A curriculum stocktake was held which highlighted that the old curriculum was overcrowded, inflexible, difficult for parents to read, teachers weren’t involved in the curriculum; achievement objectives (AOs) were artificially structured; curriculum levels were arbitrary; teachers were less creative as they were dependent on the AOs; assessment practices undermined teaching and learning; ERO used AOs as audit tools where as teachers saw them as planning tools. This stocktake led to the revised curriculum document.
The previous curriculum was a model of accountability founded on the AOs. The new curriculum is a co-constructed curriculum, which is more professionally embracing and received overwhelming support during the draft consultation phase. Over 15,000 people took part during online and face to face consultation in the construction of this curriculum and over 10,000 responses were received during the draft consultation phase.
The goals of the curriculum project are:
1. Clarify and refine curriculum outcomes (AOs)
2. Focus on quality teaching
3. Strengthen school ownership of the curriculum
4. Support communication and strengthen partnership with parents and communities.
The new curriculum document must be in use by all schools by 2010. Lester cautions us to get our thinking right and not to rush into things. There are two years to implement the curriculum and schools that are doing good things may not have much to implement. The key is in making the principles, vision and values of the curriculum explicit.
Lester states schools could address the implementation in three stages. Firstly schools need Clarification – what does the curriculum mean for that school. Next Exploration – think the curriculum through, critically review it in your context. And then Decide – which direction will you take. The key to this process is to continually be reviewing.
The principles from the curriculum document should underpin all school decision making. ERO should look for these principles infused in the school curriculum and we need to become better at talking about them in our schools. We need to be able to provide evidence through practical demonstrations in our school community of the existence of the principles.
Lester was part of preparing a package for schools called From NZ Curriculum to School Curriculum. This is available for download from the Curriculum online site on TKI.