What subjects to include in a modern curriculum?

I recently replied to another blog regarding subject development and inclusion for a possible home schooling curriculum i.e what subjects should be included in the provision?

The blog is an interesting read, focusing on homeschooling, with many good points and comments added to help fuel the debate. Core subject areas such as Science, Maths, History, Geography, English and others were included but others were not. This did raise alarm bells and highlighted some issues close to my heart, notably suggesting a curriculum that seemed to have an absence of any core activity relating to learning another Modern Language or anything to do with Design (and Technology) or manufacture.

Design as an academic (yes, academic…) and creative discipline spread across all areas of manufacture (not simply ‘woodwork’ for less able kids as it is was 25 years ago in the UK) has to be included if you are to nurture and develop youngsters who can deal with a world that is changing quicker than anyone can really understand.

Design education at its core is about problem solving, prototyping, discovering, sketching, innovating, making mistakes, taking risks and communicating on paper, on a computer and/or in a range of materials. Teaching youngsters how to think creatively, divergently and appropriately to help solve a problem is key. Manufacture using smart materials, composites, textiles, metals, woods and so on with a mix of current technologies (3D printing, cnc machining…) and basic hands-on manual skills related manufacture is crucial.

Some of these skills, notably the thinking and problem solving skills, are a pre-requisite if you are to maintain a curriculum that can support wealth creation and provide genuine capability that will serve your future bankers, doctors, lawyers, politicians etcetera. Nurturing creativity is a basic subtext of education. Any proposed curriculum must not stifle it.

I also strongly feel that mastering at least one additional modern (and maybe other?) language is vital in todays world. Both my daughters (aged 9 and 17) are almost tri-lingual (English, French, Spanish) and the eldest is looking to start studying Mandarin. I am English, my wife is French – and you can probably argue that we have a slight head start here.

I am still amazed that many kids are still only taught to ‘Google’ in English – throwing in a French or Spanish word/phrase during your search will open up another third of the Internet for you allowing greater breadth and depth to your study, allowing access across different cultures and ideals. If you can really show off then throw Mandarin into the mix – the world is definitely your oyster in a few years time irrespective of academic discipline! Modern Languages are crucial to a youngsters development in this world which is becoming quite a small place to live in.

We are very naive if we think that our kids are not going to grow up and move into professions that will at least require them to communicate via email, talk on the phone or Skype to folk in another country at some point, let alone travel to another country with work (and quite possibly work abroad at some juncture in their careers). In 27 years I have either taught in a school, or worked as a consultant, in England, France, Hong Kong, Australia and Portugal. There will be more places to go as my work, or that of my wife’s, takes me there – of that I am sure. I reiterate; the world is a small place.

Of course there are a myriad of other subjects that need to be looked at, considered and either discarded or new ones thrown in to the mix but at this late hour I think I’ll stop there.

For now 😉

 

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