The declarations of the goals of education that are vital for the young Australian generation, as voiced by Melbourne, have greatly inspired the Australian curriculum. The ministry of states and territory education adopted the declarations in 2008.
According to ACARA (2010), “The Melbourne Declaration emphasizes the importance of knowledge, understanding, and skills of learning areas, general capabilities, and cross-curriculum priorities as the basis for a curriculum designed to support 21st-century learning” (Para.1).
Due to the dynamic changes that characterize the 21st century, countries have done some progressive changes to their corresponding curriculum, all of which aim at making it more market-demand oriented. For instance, countries like Australia have established a criterion for signifying the changes by using a coding system. An example of the code system is v1.1.
“A change to the number after the point marks any updates to the curriculum such as additional information or editorial changes” (ACARA, 2010, Para. 1). The curriculum in one way or another deploys the process-product model but puts an incredible emphasis on the varying students’ needs. The paper, therefore, narrows down to the Australian curriculum, shading light on its structure, the factors that form it as well as how it caters for the need of the 21st-century learners.
The Structure of the Australian curriculum
The Australian curriculum is normally validated in a progressive manner to make sure it takes into contemplation the requirements of all the learners, as time changes. Due to the sophistication of technologies, the skills base of the Australian labor markets is also dynamic. As a result, Australia cannot avoid a corresponding validation and modification of the curriculum.
According to The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (2010), “The foundation to year 10 Australian curriculums for English, mathematics, science, and history is now available including curriculum content supported with elaborations and achievements standards supported with work samples” (Para.1).
The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) bear the chief responsibility of developing the curriculum in Australia. Its scope of work encompasses the development of “curriculum from kindergarten to year 12, beginning with learning areas of English, mathematics, science, and history” (2010, Para. 2) followed by curriculum development in arts, languages and geography subjects.
Every subject must have the aims or rationale behind it well described, a brief description of year levels and organization of the learning areas, explanation of what people anticipate of the teachers to deliver as well as the descriptions of the expected quality standards that the teachers must meet.
According to the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, the curriculum also has “annotated student work samples that illustrate the achievement standard at each year level” (2010, Para.5). Also, the curriculum must also have a glossary written consistently by the various terms that any curriculum must employ.
Relationship of Australian curriculum with other models
The Australian curriculum is well compliant with various curriculum models, which borrow widely from process-product models and procedural models. Such models include Tyler and Skilbeck’s, situational analysis models. Although Tyler may not have intended to deploy his procedural model to prescribe specific steps in the curriculum making process, the Australian curriculum rather follows specific Planning steps tantamount to those theorized by Tyler.
To ensure that the Australian curriculum measures up to the international curriculum, the requisite body: ACARA, charged with the responsibility of curriculum modification benchmarks the newly to be incorporated changes with curriculum from other nations.
The Australian curriculum depicts a significant relationship with other curriculum models, as it takes into consideration the importance of hitting an optimal capability to interrelate the skills, the experiences acquired and the capacity of the learners to deploy such skills in their lifelong endeavors. Virtually all people endow different students with the differing capacity to build on abstract ideas, reason critically, and make impeccable application of the meta-cognitive skills in the due learning process.
Such concerns in the Australian curriculum are somewhat compliant with the Sticks model, put forward in 1976, in which he highlights the importance of school cultures and proclaims that in the understanding of these culture contributions to the effectiveness of learning results, the first step would entangle conducting a situational analysis.
Directly congruent with the Australian curriculum model, Stilbeck model emphasizes on the “goal formulations, program building implementation, and monitoring” (p.26). Consequently, in an endeavor to guarantee the safeguarding of underachievement, “curriculum needs to be developed that will both challenge and stimulate students appropriately” (Brady & Kennedy, 2010, p.32).
This constitutes a major aim of all described curriculum models and something inherent in the Australian curriculum model. Choice and Flexibility are essential components of any curriculum. Differentiation, followed by fine-tuning of the curriculum models can aid creatively in producing a curriculum that is accommodative of all individual student differences.
Similar to other curriculum models, Australian curriculum model aims at ensuring that the curriculum is adaptive to accommodate every student. It accomplishes this through substantive revisions, as prompted by the need to meet the dynamic market labor demands.
Definition of the Australian curriculum
The idea of the curriculum has been in use over a long term to describe the schooling organizations. In his book, The Curriculum, Kelly defines curriculum as “all the learning, planned and guided by the school, whether done in groups or individuals inside or outside the school” (1999, p.12). In this context, one can view curriculum cuts as a product, which entangles a transmittable sphere of knowledge.
He/ she can as well view it as a praxis and or process, which are congruent with Aristotle’s classification of knowledge into four categories: “the theoretical, the productive, and the practical” (Kelly, 1999, p.5). The syllabus itself is more of theoretical and must undergo a process to make it more practical. The outputs of the process: products and praxis render the curriculum productive.
In the context of the Australian definition of curriculum, according to the Royal Australian college of general practitioner curriculum “details the knowledge, skills and attitudes, necessary competency, unsupervised general practice and emphasizes self directed learning objectives, the development of critical self reflection and lifelong learning skills, and maintenance of professional practice standards” (2010, Para. 6).
This definition substantially addresses the key concerns of any curriculum in a broad sense of schooling. However, the much scholarly contested need for the inclusion of the curriculum applications outside school is still left out to confine the definition of the curriculum, to only entangle those strategies that the teacher must make to make sure that the key skills and competencies that must be passed to the students are accomplished (Marsh, 2004, p.199).
Goals and purposes of education
The purposes of education entail making every student, irrespective of race or disability to grow into full potential and capacity since education encompasses the creation of means of opening barriers, minds and making it possible to convert impossibilities into possibilities (March 2004, p.210). The curriculum in Australia seeks to instill a strong foundation on key areas of learning including numeracy, teamwork, creativity, social competence, literacy, self-management among other areas.
The main object aims at enabling all the Australian students to stand a chance of learning through the multi interdisciplinary environment with the intention of developing new and efficient expertise that meets the hefty demands of the 21st-century job market.
The Australian curriculum supports and promotes the view that curriculum constitutes a major tool for predicting and ensuring that young people in Australia become competitive in cultural life, economic and political both locally and in the international floors.
According to Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), such a curriculum deserve to be a reflection of the Australian “ visions for future and best attempts for predicting and planning what young people will need to be active and successful” (2010, Para.8).
In the development process of the curriculum, the involvement of all stakeholders and professional associations can supply the ardently required expertise deemed necessary for merging the views of the curriculum and actual practice on the ground.
The views of the Australian curriculum on the learner
The learners are diverse and have varying capabilities. The founders of the Australian curriculum framed it in a way that “ensures that curriculum content and achievements standards establish high expectations for all students” (Killen, 2003, p.23).
The curriculum is flexible and tailor-made in such a way that it turns rigorous with provisions for availing engagement opportunities during the learning process to all students who are viewed as possessing multiple need which spontaneously changes largely due to factors attributable to diversity in historical backgrounds and social economics.
Worth noting is that many diverse factors inform the curriculum thereby influencing the curriculum view of learners. The first factor is philosophy, which helps in understanding the behaviors of students and how to cope with these behaviors to ensure proper learning. The curriculum also caters for the needs of students who need special treatment. Human development has also influenced the Australian curriculum view of learners.
Due to the rapid change happening in the current world, which involves a lot of human development, the Australian curriculum is undergoing many changes to produce students who can cope with the changes experienced in the 21st century. This curriculum caters for all kind of learners. They are learning theories, evident in the curriculum, aid in understanding the complex process of learning.
The valued processes of teaching, assessment, and learning
Australian curriculum ensures effective processes of learning, teaching, and assessment of all students. These processes are paramount in ensuring that student getting out of Australian schools are well informed and are ready to tackle diverse challenges. The learning process is of great essence in this curriculum, as it serves to equip students with the necessary skills as stipulated in the curriculum.
This incorporates student-centered and teacher-directed learning together with enabling all students to relax and instigate different questions with a lot of increasing initiative, expertise, and self-direction (Rudd & Smith, 2007, p. 17). The learning process involves theoretical learning in books, education visits, and practical lessons.
This makes learning more enjoyable and meaningful for all students and to aid students in making sense of key concepts or ideas. Teaching process incorporates diverse means all aimed at delivering meaningful messages to students.
Accessing whether the student has achieved at, below, or above the set standards is paramount because it forms strong feedback on how to improve the teaching process for better results. Also, it aids in discovering students requiring targeted teaching and additional support to ensure that they do not fall behind other students.
Assessment process of this curriculum occurs for different purposes and at different levels. This includes, ongoing formative assessments within Australian classrooms with the aim of monitoring learning processes and providing feedback to Australian teachers to inform their teaching, and for all students to inform their way of learning (Pinar, 2003, p.23).
Furthermore, there is a summative assessment done for diverse purposes of twice-yearly assessment and reporting to guardians and parents on the achievements and progress of their students. Also, there is annual testing of different levels of students’ achievements in distinct aspects of numeracy and literacy. This is, “conducted as a part of Australian National Assessment Program-Literacy and Numeracy’ (NAPLAN)” (Holt, 1996, p.249).
Lastly, there is periodic sample evaluation and testing of learning areas, which fall within this curriculum to ensure high-quality standards are maintained. All these processes have produced remarkable results by producing well-informed students with diverse knowledge.
The extent to which Australian Curriculum cater to the 21st century needs
Over the years, the Australian curriculum has undergone tremendous changes all aimed at re-defining the goals of education, re-conceptualizing of skills, attributes, and depositions that young Australians should gain from their education.
This re-conceptualization is set to cater for unprecedented global changes, driven by technological and economic forces as well as environmental challenges. This curriculum is, “focused on equipping students with adequate skills to take advantage of diverse opportunities offered by the rapid changing world and contribute to tacking its many challenges” (Schwartz, 2006, p.449).
It achieves this through quality teaching, innovations, good leadership in schools, and employment of highly qualified professionals in the learning institutions. Also, the Australian Government has endorsed different researches, which provide means of catering for the diverse needs experienced in the 21st century.
The Australian curriculum ensures flexibility and choices. This way, it can realize the collective purpose of the education, which entails provisions of channels that can result in overall animus growth of every child, in his or her full potential.
The curriculum views students need as diverse, and thus it must satisfy the myriads of the student anticipations. Substantive revisions cannot be avoided if at all these demands are to be met precisely. The essay claims that the characteristic changes in the labor market demand can warrant the need to revise the curriculum perhaps annually.
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