Due to the dynamic changes that characterise the 21st century, Australia has done some progressive changes to its curriculum, all of which aim at making the skills acquired because of deploying the curriculum in teaching more market-demand oriented. The declarations of the goals of education that are vital for Australian young 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).
Australia has 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 incredible emphasis on the varying students’ needs. By noting that education needs of students and labor markets are diverse, this paper examines the various features of the updated Australian curriculum, as accomplished by The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) in quest to cater for the needs of the 21st century learners.
The Structure of the Australian curriculum
Education and skills, which are the base level requirements of job markets, keep on changing: something that necessitates the need for alteration of curriculum to suit such demands. Consequently, the Australian curriculum has to face progressive modifications to make sure it takes into consideration the requirements of all the learners, as time changes.
The need for validation of the curriculum increases based on the onset of sophistication of technologies and dynamics of the skills base of the Australian labor markets. As a result, Australia cannot avoid a corresponding validation and modification of the curriculum.
In this regard, According to ACARA (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). It therefore means that the Australian curriculum is keeping abreast with dynamics of education to meet changing needs of students as well as labor market.
ACARA has the chief responsibility of developing the curriculum in Australia. “The scope and sequence summarises the curriculum documents of all states and territories and the Statements of Learning for Science” (MCEETYA, 2006, p.4).
The scope of the curriculum work encompasses 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 described well, must have brief description of year levels and organization of the learning areas, have provisions for 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 ACARA, the curriculum also provides “…student work samples that illustrate the achievement standard at each year level” (2010, Para.5). Thus, the work samples guide teachers in assessing performance of students from kindergarten to the others grade years. In addition, the curriculum must also have a glossary written consistently in accordance with the various terms that any curriculum must employ.
Relationship of Australian curriculum with other models
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. Tyler’s model borrows it basis from sequences that are logically developed. “The models begins with the objectives through to content to method and then to evaluation/assessment” (Brady & Kennedy, 2010, p.41).
On the other hand, Skilbeck’s situational analysis model seeks to provide a process for examination of contexts that people deem appropriate for operation of the curriculum. Such theoretical basis is crucial for construction of any curriculum model: something that ACARA appears to appreciate.
Although, Tyler may have not 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 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 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 Stibecks model, put forward in 1976, in which he highlights the importance of school cultures and proclaims that in understanding of these culture contributions to the effectiveness of learning results, the first step would entangle conducting 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 has the capacity to aid in a creative way 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 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 school, whether done in groups or individually 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 in schooling. However, according to Marsh (2004), 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 (p.199). Thus, teachers need to entangle strategies, which make sure that the key skills and competencies get across to students effectively.
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 creation of means of opening barriers, minds and making it possible to convert impossibilities into possibilities (Marsh 2004, p.210).
The curriculum in Australia seeks to instill 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 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 (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, involvement of all stakeholders and professional associations have the capacity to supply the ardently required expertise deemed necessary for merging the views of the curriculum and actual practice on the ground.
The views of 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 evidently spontaneously change 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 in order to ensure proper learning. The curriculum also caters for the needs of students who need special treatment.
Human development has also influenced 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 21st century. This curriculum caters for all kind of learners. 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 lot of increasing initiative, expertise, and self-direction (Rudd & Smith, 2007, p. 17). 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.
Accessing whether the student has achieved at, below, or above the set standards is paramount because it forms a strong feedback on how to improve the teaching process for better results. In addition, 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 include, ongoing formative assessments within Australian classrooms with aim of monitoring learning processes and providing feedback to Australian teachers to inform their own teaching and improve way of learning among students (Pinar, 2003, p.23).
Monitoring learning process and continuous assessment of students is essential in determining of appropriate curriculum. Furthermore, there is a summative assessment done for diverse purposes of twice-yearly assessment and reporting to guardians and parents on achievements and progress of their students. In addition, there is an annual “…testing of different levels of students’ achievements in distinct aspects of numeracy and literacy” (Pinar, 2003, p.23).
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 in order to ensure high quality standards are maintained. All these process have produced remarkable results by producing well-informed students with diverse knowledge.
Extent to which Australian Curriculum cater for the 21st century needs
Over the years, 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 so as 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. In addition, Australian Government has endorsed different researches, which provide means of catering for the diverse needs experienced in 21st century.
ACARA plays a significant role in ensuring that Australian curriculum is flexible to keep breast with changing dynamics in education and labor markets. In the development of the curriculum, ACARA has realized the need for collective purpose in education. Consequently, Australian curriculum has undergone several changes into its updated stated discussed in the paper.
Since the curriculum views the needs of students as diverse, it must satisfy their myriads anticipations. Substantive revisions are inevitable, if at all, one has to meet the demands precisely. Thus, the essay claims that the characteristic changes in the labor market demand have the capacity to warrant for the need to revise the curriculum perhaps annually.
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