“C” for (Australian) Curriculum

From the AGE today a top Victorian educational bureaucrat grades the draft Australian Curriculum as ‘C’ standard. Mind you, that would be totally acceptable by VIctorian VELS standards.

Interestingly, David Howes’s main criticism was couched in terms of curriculum over-crowding and increasing expectations about what schools should have to teach. I liked the comment that Howes keeps a list of all the things he sees in politics and the media that are pushed into schools, from road safety to table manners, from reading a Rip to reading food labelling. My crtiticism of the Australian Curriculum has been differently focused (lack of local control = lack of relevance to specific cohorts) but I take the point about overcrowding. The piece says:

A VICTORIAN education chief has graded the draft national curriculum a ”C”, in a blunt assessment of the way schools will have to teach from next year.

In a critical appraisal, David Howes, general manager of curriculum at the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, warned of the risk of ”overcrowding” in the national curriculum, saying there were already increasing expectations of what schools should teach.

A recent example was of a school in Melbourne’s east whose year 9 students were learning table manners at a local TAFE, after the principal decided they had no idea how to conduct themselves at the table during a school camp.

The national curriculum, to be introduced from next year, will require indigenous perspectives, Australia’s engagement with Asia and a commitment to sustainable living to be part of every subject.

Mr Howes warned this risked overcrowding the curriculum.

”The way in which this is being designed and included in the curriculum is not a helpful one,” he told a seminar on Asian perspectives last week.

He said rather than singling out Australia’s engagement with Asia, the curriculum should talk about ”global competence”, which would mean important regions such as the Middle East were not forgotten.

He told the seminar he kept a list of all the times someone had said: ”Schools have to …”

Premier John Brumby had said there was not enough respect and school should teach it, Mr Howes said.

Many schools were running sessions on responsible pet care, following an RSPCA campaign, he said.

And there had been claims children had drowned because schools didn’t teach them how to read where rips were.

”Time is not an elastic phenomenon – we need to get consensus on what schools should be teaching,” Mr Howes said. ”Schools cannot do the lot.”