A big worry about the curriculum in our schools currently is that it isn’t promoting real, deep learning. That it only supports shallow learning, a recall of facts, memorisation. We seem to be stalling at the lower end of Bloom’s taxonomy. The ability to remember a range of unconnected chunks of information beyond the tests they were originally presented for might be useful in a pub quiz but it won’t be particularly helpful in the workplace of the future. We live in an age where access to knowledge is more immediate than ever. Children can find out what they need to know at the touch of a button or screen, from an early age they know how to search for information. We need to develop their ability to think critically about the answers they are presented with, to help them understand that everything they read isn’t from a trusted and reliable source. We ned to encourage them to challenge and question, put simply we need to teach them to think.
In school we need to go beyond the skin deep learning experience, as this doesn’t help develop children as thinkers. The skin deep curriculum, where presentation and recall of facts and passive acceptance of truths hold sway offers only a shallow learning experience unlikely to appeal to the masses. We want our learners to be inspired, excited by possibilities, actively engaged in challenges that prepare them for the uncertain future. Guy Claxton surveyed a number of teachers for his book ‘What’s the Point of School?’ They thought a curriculum to prepare learners for the future should include a range of qualities, traits, values and habits of mind – things that have previously been pretty much left to chance, something to be picked up by osmosis perhaps, or learned from families and friends outside of school. Our approach to the curriculum has to encompass such ‘learning experiences‘ if it is to be relevant and meet the needs of tomorrow’s society. We have to make this ‘stealth learning’ conspicuous, visible to all and a necessary part of education.
It seems obvious that today’s learners need more than a shallow pedagogical experience and we would be failing them if we let them leave school armed with no more than this, for as Eric Hoffer said:
‘In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.’