Thoughts from the classroom-Students should be taught based on the curriculum and not textbooks

Though the base for classroom teaching is the curriculum, many schools are today reluctant to teach their students based on those components guided by the curriculum. Instead, they prefer to teach from textbooks because they believe that they are all in all

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Gopal Sijapati Magar
Education is often taken as an instrument of social change and development since it brings a positive change in outlook and attitude. In other words, the key purpose of education is to promote affirmative transformation in society and build a civilised country. This is only possible if energetic efforts are made to improve and develop the formal education system. However, even though a number of initiatives have been conducted in Nepal, like the National Education Planning Commission (1955), the Comprehensive Education Committee (1962), the National Education Advisory Committee (1967) and the National Educational System Plan (1971), there has not been as much improvement in education as there should have been.

Ever since the inception of organised schooling, the curriculum has been taken as one of the principal components of quality education. And thus, there has been much discussion about not only effective implementation of the curriculum in classroom teaching that places the learners in its specific role but also its spirit. Compared to the curriculum designed by high level specialists who decide what children should learn, the extreme position is found to have been given to one designed by both the teachers and the learners.

From the time of Plato and Aristotle, the significance of educating children based on the curriculum has been strongly acknowledged as the curriculum plays a crucial role in the promotion of effective and meaningful education for all. Due to such a catalytic role of the curriculum, it is also the first to be attacked when inadequacies occur in the education system. The new paradigm in educational reform is to implement a curriculum fully based on the ideas from a broad spectrum of society.

The ongoing change in the educational environment, the diverse educational needs of students and the high expectations of society demand strong educational change—not only at the educational planning and policy levels but also at the school level. For this, some viable efforts such as teaching children based on the components of the curriculum, using both instructional and reference materials directed by the curriculum, and stimulating children by consulting the curriculum as per their levels can be made part of its implementation. As many scholars and educators have claimed, the nature of the curriculum and its effectiveness establish a model to explore how effectively the national and level-wise goals of education are being fulfilled.

Moreover, the appropriate form of curriculum development, to a great extent, aims at maximising the effectiveness of teaching and learning through planned content, activities and arrangements for educational processes. However, it may be critical to find out the kind of curriculum that is effective for teaching and learning and what main factors contribute to its effectiveness.

Many researches carried out on the study of the curriculum have highlighted that it can be taken as a major tool of teaching in classrooms since it provides correct guidelines for effective teaching and learning with clear objectives. Furthermore, the 1990 Jomtin Declaration and the 2000 Dakar Declaration have also emphasised the development of a suitable curriculum to give quality education for all. Likewise, the Millennium Summit 2000 identified the curriculum as the main instrument to achieve lifelong and quality education.

Realising the inevitability of curriculum implementation in classroom teaching, the School Sector Reform Plan (2009-15) has focused on the implementation of the National Curriculum Framework up to the higher secondary level where due emphasis is given to the reform of the curriculum and textbooks to achieve quality education. But, here in Nepal, there is still a big question regarding its practical use though curriculum is not a new term for teachers and other stakeholders.

Many educationists and scholars have argued that the curriculum is a plan of the entire educational system that includes planning, implementation and evaluation. Moreover, it includes the goals, objectives, content, process, resources and means of evaluation of the whole education system. The curriculum is, therefore, a primary tool for teaching in classrooms since the whole education system, in its absence, becomes like a tree without roots.

The fact is that almost all the teachers of every level are found to be using textbooks as the main source for teaching. And thus, there are rare examples of teaching without textbooks. Though the base for classroom teaching is the curriculum, many schools are today reluctant to teach their students based on those components guided by the curriculum. Instead, they prefer to teach from textbooks because they believe that they are all in all. This should be strongly discouraged since textbooks are only a part of the curriculum from which the goals and achievements cannot be fulfilled.

The curriculum is thus a complier of those activities that not only stimulate children to learn by arousing their curiosity but also widen their horizon of knowledge by developing their creativity in learning. Furthermore, the curriculum provides ample opportunities for students to be involved in various co-curricular activities based on educational values, from which they can learn many things about the world around them. In this way, children should be taught based on the curriculum rather than textbooks since the curriculum can replace textbooks as a learning tool but not vice versa. And no doubt, teaching and learning activities can be carried out smoothly with greater effectiveness if there is a strong will in the implementation of the curriculum.

source: Magar,Gopal Sijapati (2013),"Thoughts from the classroom", The Kathmandu Post,30 jan 2013

2013-01-30 | EducateNepal


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