It seems a huge shame that such an important document is not regularly referred to in school change and strategic discussions. The groundbreaking nature of this document is most notable for the fact that it relegates the learning areas to the back of the document, appropriately prioritizing vision, values, key competencies and then the learning areas with all facets underpinned by appropriate principles (inclusive of among others; high expectations, the Treaty of Waitangi, learning to learn). This document and most importantly the philosophy and intent behinds the words and images.
But why is the New Zealand Curriculum so important for New Zealand and its students and future going forward?
1. It emphasizes the need for New Zealanders to be CONFIDENT. Those New Zealanders who have excelled on the world stage have done so through their extraordinary ability (physical, intellectual) but all the ability in the world counts for nothing if our students are also not "positive in their own identity, motivated and reliable, resourceful, enterprising and entrepreneurial, and resilient" (NZC, p8). To a certain extent, this is little about content the "what" we teach but more about the "how" we teach or importantly how our students learn and increasingly, self-learn.
2. It emphasizes the need for New Zealanders to be CONNECTED. "The expectations of students "ability to relate well to others, effective users of communication tools, connected to the land and environment, member of communities, international citizens" (NZC, p8). For me, this is the greatest need for our students and the greatest deficiency currently in our education system and in the minds of the teachers. In an era where teachers are way down the list in terms of being "content holders" but at the top of the list in terms of coaching and facilitating learning, the ability of technology to close the world and make all information available at the click of a button or touch of a screen does not require a subtle in current methods of teaching and learning, it demands a dramatic and rapid transformation. When I can take part in a twitter chat with Texas educators on Monday lunchtime (#txedchat), the need for our students to understand not just how to engagement but also lead global discussions requires knowledge and actual ability in not digital competency but also citizenship.
3. It emphasizes the need for New Zealanders to be ACTIVELY INVOLVED. To be blunt, to cease or not be "actively" involved ceases the relevancy of those concerned. The NZC desires students that are "participants in a range of life contexts, contribute to the well-being of New Zealand- social, cultural, economic, and environmental" (p8). For our students to be 'actively involved" in an increasingly digitized and connected" they need to be comfortable and capable on all of the analogue and digital, local and global stages. The pedagogy -in-play must of such design and implementation that students can only participate AND lead in the various contexts of New Zealand today and today going forward. It is also essential that teachers grow students who can think, lead and act globally as much as in their local and national communities. This will enable New Zealand and its citizens to retain relevancy in terms of global progress, concerns and contributions. After all remember it was New Zealand who first gave the women the vote over one hundred years ago!
4.It emphasizes the need for New Zealanders to be LIFELONG LEARNERS. When New Zealand as a country has students and indeed citizens who are "literate and numerate, critical and creative thinkers, active seekers, users and creators of knowledge, informed decision makers", we are now only future-proofing our individuals, but also our communities and country and ensuring our future effectiveness. To enable citizens with the above attributes requires a priority on the journey as much as the destination. Arguably the "how" and "when, where" of student learning is more important and future-valid than the "what", which in most cases, will be cease to be relevant long-term. While the content for learning is now constantly evolving, the "how, when, where" of student learning requires teachers to be vital tools in ensuring students now understand:
- the importance of learning
- how to learn independently or collaboratively
- how to consider and critique
- how subjects/learning areas contextualize learning
- how to use technology safely and proactively
The challenge and transformation in front of today's New Zealand educators and students and community is immense but albeit necessary, not only for the now, but for the effectiveness of our individual and collective futures. Belief in the need for transformation and the prevailing visible vision is essential as is a desire to be involved, to contribute to create and to lead. Such a future future context can only be affirming and beneficial for the individual, community and country.