Crafting an inclusive curriculum

Crafting an inclusive curriculum

Construction of new learning environments, introduction of innovative curricula, adoption of new pedagogy styles and revised assessment modes that can stand up to global standards need to determine our educational system in this era of globalisation, writes Vintu Augustine.

The present decade has been categorically defined by the setting up of innumerable educational institutions and granting of autonomous status to many academic centers. Do they comply with the ethical question of pure motive in establishing institutions and the requirements for them to become centers of academic excellence?

When quite many of them have been born out of pure business orientation, many others are brain child of politicians and corporate personnel to cover up their mismanaged funds. In such a scenario, a backward journey in space and time to rediscover the ethos of candid education and genuine curriculum transaction is inevitable.

Understanding education

Transmission of culture, preparation for specialised roles in life and influencing changes in cultural heritage, being the functions of education, it cannot be reduced merely to a means of career boost and monetary benefit. Education has to be understood as an empowerment of generations through proper transmission of cultural ethos, initiating a process of social change and influencing personal enhancement toward progress and development. It is a life formation for progress, prosperity and wholeness. 

Empowering and educating the young through schools and colleges depend greatly upon how effectively curriculum transaction is planned, how innovatively it is transacted in the classrooms through various means and what teachers do to bring about better participation and greater learning. So to say, the selection of curriculum materials and the preparation of learning experiences should be based on the specific needs and aspirations of students, their age and their readiness for learning, with the ultimate aim of educating them in the best way possible within a specified span of time.

Defining curriculum

Curriculum refers to the organised course of study materials and learning experiences for a particular group of students under the aegis of an educational institution. It comprises of a totality of learning experiences – be they curricular or co-curricular, formal or informal - aimed at educating and empowering the young,  never means of financial and corporate gains.

Education tend to become a commodity of invested interest when educational services are sold in the market and can be bought at bargainable prices; when tutorials and coaching centres of various forms are mushrooming up in every nook and corner of human habitation purely out of a mindset of profit and money-making; and when transmission of knowledge and information becomes merely a paid job.

Curriculum transaction is not about transmission of fixed truths but rather providing students with significant experiences and opportunities for interaction. Herein, curriculum is perceived as a set of learning events and activities through which teachers and students collaboratively negotiate content and meaning.

Towards international perspective

Looking at policy formulation from an education perspective, an understanding of the contested processes that shape education is important for members of the teaching profession. Many teachers experience policy as change ‘from above’ mediated through school managers and leaders, but rather they need to take an informed and critical perspective on policy initiation, formulation, development and implementation to be active and autonomous professionals. Education policy is determined by a range of influences, including political agendas, stakeholder interests and the organisational, administrative and value preferences of policy makers and civil servants.

Educational policy needs to be understood not only from a local and national perspective but also in an international context. This is to be perceived within the perspective of the major initiatives of international agencies like UNESCO, UNICEF, etc.; how these are translated into national policy and curricula; the movement of ideas (knowledge transfer) internationally that shapes educational policy nationally; and the implications of these processes for schools, learners and teachers, looking at how a global dimension is integrated into the curriculum.

Imbibing a global curriculum

In this era of globalisation, educational policy needs to be viewed from an international perspective, equipping teachers and educational leaders to translate policy into practice more effectively and provide learners with knowledge, skills and abilities to become successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens, who make positive contributions to society. Such perspective calls for  integrate a global dimension into the curriculum.

The widespread growth of political, social and economic notions of globalisation and global movement of people, ideas, commodities and technologies have driven the need for a global thinking in the educational scenario as well. We live in an era of ‘global interconnectedness’ that has affected every aspect of our life like a wildfire and has been proved to be robust.

This interconnectedness is, increasingly than before, driving the necessity for imbibing a global curriculum. So to say, learners need to be equipped with knowledge and skills to respond rapidly andflexibly to the ever dynamic socio-economic contexts, in this ever changing world.

Schools need to be able to respond, adapt, create and innovate in the face of such changes. Construction of new learning environments, introduction of innovative curricula, adoption of new pedagogy styles and revised assessment modes that can stand up to global standards need to determine our educational system.

What is global education?

Global Education is a perspective through which contents of the curriculum is viewed, wherein teachers make use of various methods, allowing the students at any age to assimilate the material. Transcending subject matter and age level and focusing on developing global citizens, global education adds authenticity to any curriculum.
Elements of global perspective: There are some important elements inherent in global viewing of curriculum; 

*Holistic thinking and teaching, wherein learning is incorporated from one topic to the next

* Inculcating appreciation towards cultural diversity in children

* Promoting optimistic thinking in a troubled world and international development 

* Instilling a sense of care for self, others around and global environment

* Enhancing critical thinking and problem-solving skills

Effects of global curriculum: Following a global curriculum leaves imprints of massive impact in students;

* They learn to respect, appreciate and value other cultures
* They learn about developing countries and their issues optimistically
* They become socially and environmentally responsible
* They gain a positive outlook on their role in making the world a better place

Global education enriches any curriculum by clarifying the connections to real life. It is about helping students understand the world and their place in it more fully and taking action, either personally or in community to practice the skills of responsible, global citizenship. Making connections between local and global manifestations of common issues, it builds understanding of interconnections and interdependencies.

Making global education relevant to their day-to-day life helps students develop critical thinking skills applicable to daily decisions, which impact global peace and security. And ultimately it emphasises the empowerment and autonomy of individuals and groups. Personal development goes hand in hand with planetary awareness.

Globalising the curriculum

A lot of thinking and planning has to go into the implementation of global curriculum and it requires precision and accuracy.

n Adapting to the learner: Often enough, educators select the contents and domain of learning and force the students to use them rather than understanding their needs. The call of the hour, more than anything else, is to adapt to their needs, of course, not blindly adopting their strategies at the sacrifice of time-proven methods.

Using social media and educational technologies in a learning environment can be very effective in cutting across the barriers of curriculum transaction, but the strength of a tool has to assessed and understood before implementation. The crucial question in implementing educational technologies is whether they promote understanding or distract knowledge-development.

Traditional learning was defined by well-sequenced instruction, charismatic teachers and enthusiastic students. Today, as learners have access to diverse forms of study materials, the type and tone of classroom transaction need to change.

n Creating new learning environments: We cannot create or implement a global curriculum confining ourselves to traditional classrooms, whatever be the advantages of technology. We need to realign the boundaries of our classrooms and enhance our physical meeting points to meet the requirements of global education.

Addressing “real time” local issues and delivering solutions through project-based learning, and moving out of one’s classroom and collaborating with other classes in their content areas are important to the implementation of a global curriculum.

Global education is predominantly about awareness and then application. Students need to be exposed to informal learning environments to reflect, react and rethink in the most powerful way so as to emerge as effective global citizens. Time will prove it robust, no doubt.

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