It has been claimed that the emphasis on academic education is alienating a generation of children and that policy-makers should offer alternative education to young people who thrive doing vocational courses. Building a curriculum within any school community is an opportunity to reflect aspirations, futures and demands needed within society, but the straight-jacketed approach will not suit all individuals all the time. With a perceived approach focused on incessant assessment, pressure on schools and standardised approaches, it is clear that any enjoyment of learning can easily be lost for the sake of results. So, is there any hope?
Fortunately, there is hope. And with many schools wondering how they can build a curriculum model that meets the demands of government policy as well as the needs of the children and communities they serve, Debra Kidd has produced a book that illustrates how teachers and school leaders can deliver learning experiences that genuinely link knowledge to life.
In her book, Debra argues that a strong curriculum that supports the growth of children should have five core elements: coherence, credibility, creativity, compassion, and community. Central to Kidd's argument is that when these pillars are in place they shouldn't demand a great deal of extra work for teachers and schools. In fact, admirably, pedagogy is at the heart of this book as a means of empowering children in developing key skills and learning.
In -˜The pedagogy of power' chapter, The reader is reminded of the power of stories, in particular by adding a pivot to a story that brings students in, directly. Calling upon further reading and research, the argument here is that stories sit within the framework of what can be called our cognitive tools, Engaging body, emotion, intellect and imagination that creates a powerful web in which we can trap learning and memory. Alongside stories, Debra also reminds us about the power of play within education - an opportunity often neglected as children grow older - along also with the power of movement.
As the book progresses, Debra Kidd also encourages that schools find coherence across the curriculum, including encouraging secondary schools to consider linking concepts across subjects. Attention is not only given towards the curriculum demands within England, but specific consideration is given to teachers and the challenges set on educators in Wales, as the new -˜Curriculum for Wales' comes into force in 2022. It is clear that the author is enthused by this new opportunity in Wales with a curriculum that is underpinned by an ethical frame bound up with the idea that education should seek to empower students to be active citizens who will change the world and their futures. Comparisons are also made to other international jurisdictions, but the essence of the book is bound in offering the five core elements shared earlier. As the book concludes: Hope lives in trust; in agency; in curiosity; in vulnerability; in community, and; in play. Now that is something to be hopeful for.-‹