Monday, 2 June 2014

Throw off the shackles and turn the curriculum upside down. Jono Broom

Throw off the shackles and turn the curriculum upside down.

It's a frosty, brisk morning, and James is on his way to school. As he wanders down the road he looks at his watch. Ten to nine. Ten minutes to make the twenty minute walk to school. Oh well, he only has English first and it meant an extra ten minutes sleep this morning. He scuffs the leaves as he walks along, his hands keeping warm deep in his pockets.

Ten past nine and he walks into class "You're late!" shrieks Mrs Davids the English teacher as James takes his place next to his mate Tim. "English book open to page 93, we're doing adjectives! Hurry up you need to catch up with everyone else." James takes his time getting his book out, after all, the more time he wastes now, the less time he has to work on adjectives.

The bell rings and James saunters out of the classroom. Finally he can have a good chat to Tim about the party on Saturday night. "David was drunk as, he hooked up with Julie!" He says as he walks into the science room. "Text books open to page 53," Mr Rogers the science teacher says, "Acids and bases are on the cards for today!"
"You gonna talk to David about it?" whispers Tim as James gets his science book out. "You can't just let him move in on the girl you like!"
"Yeah, I'll hit him up at lunchtime." whispers James. He was angry.
"Right that's it boys, if you're not going to work together, you can work apart. Move over here please James!" says Mr Rogers. James gives Tim a dirty look as he gets up and moves himself. "Mr Rogers is a dick." He whispers.

Morning tea time and James has just enough time to get to his locker before the next class. He looks at his timetable. History, lunch, art and German is his plan for the rest of the day. He grabs his books and makes his way to the history block. Mr Gregory is there waiting for him as he walks in.
"James Peterson." He says. "Homework done today?"
"No." James mutters as he finds his desk, the whole class is looking at him. It's so embarrassing. "Stupid Mr Gregory. I don't even like history, why am I taking this class?!"

It's a frosty, brisk morning, and James is on his way to his learning community. As he walks down the road he looks at his watch. Half past eight, he's going to be there 10 minutes early, enough time to get ready for his project. He's really excited about it, he gets to start his movie making today.

He arrives at Mrs Davids learning community and she greets him as he walks in the door. "Morning James, how are you?"
"Not too bad miss, he replies."
James finds his friend Tim to talk about the party on Saturday: "David was drunk as, he hooked up with Julie!" he says.
"You gunna talk to David about it? You can't just let him move in on Julie like that." Replies Tim.
"Yeah I know, we'll see what they're like in here today, might have to do something about it."
"Start our movie today though bra, got any ideas?"
"Yeah a few."
It's 9am. Learning time. David and Tim head to plan their day. They are both really excited about the movie they're going to be making today, they have a workshop with Mrs Davids about it first thing.

They sit down at the workshop with Mrs Davids. It's really confusing, so many big questions and subsidiary questions to think about. They also have to tie it into the curriculum. English, they have to write scripts for their movie. Drama, they have to think about all the acting skills they are going to be using. Technology, they have to think about the filming, setting up the lights, and editing programmes they're going to be using. Social skills, they have to organise the cast and crew on their set. Clothing, textiles and design technology, they have to create costumes and props. Working with the learning facilitator to plan their project and to direct their learning they have huge buy-in and ownership of their project. They are incredibly engaged and don't have to trudge from room to room, subject to subject, with no links between any of them

It's time for teachers the world over to throw off their ideas of subjects. It's time to stop trying to invent new ways to make the curriculum more engaging, and to turn everything upside down. Take ideas or themes that engage individual students and see what parts of the curriculum you can link them to. Have discussions as a staff on what the actual idea of school is in the 21st century. Is it to educate people into a job or career path? Or is it to help learners become better people?


  1. Thank you for posting this. It's a valuable idea and I hope we can transform classrooms in this way. My concern is how students with learning disabilities cope with this integrated curriculum. I believe that engaging their interest is the first step, as shown in this blog post, but many obstacles remain. Keep posting. ( Comment from Google Plus: Peter J Francis.

  2. © moment from Google Plus...Arique Sherman. Focus on formation instead of √©ducation. Students never run for grades.

  3. Sounds really good, a bit like what some homeschoolers do when they "unschool", by providing opportunities to learn but not lessons as such and not limiting how long one spends doing something.

  4. Pleased to see that we teachers have more or less same approach towards teaching and integrating Technology in our teaching.I am teaching Chemistry to Grade9, 10 and 11 and currently using Technology frequently in my classroom practice. I want to join your network for sharing each others personal teaching experiences.

  5. Thanks for posting this. off course a time is needed to focus on integrating different ways to make classroom more lively and bringing students towards meaningful learning. Sharing each others experiences can definitely improve the quality of teaching and can lead to better options for teaching within your resources. My request is to post article specially on teaching with ICT and its defectiveness using any particular Technology.