I have been reading some interesting discussion about the EYLF and the new Australian Curriculum. The best comment I have heard is “the Australian Curriculum is about content, not how teachers deliver it”. Why can’t both of these document work together to produce best practice and outcomes for students.
This discussion is not a new one. I remember this debate going on when I was in college (23 years ago!). More recently, I was at a business meeting discussing the aims of Rose³. After the meeting, I was approached by a young woman who wanted to discuss primary school education. Her father, a teacher of many years is “tearing his hair out” (her words) to overcome the “academic” thinking of the school in which he is teaching. The school serviced some very “difficult” (again her words) students. He could see that they were not responding to the traditional teaching style of the administration and he wanted to try some new strategies. He, however, is receiving no support for any out of the box thinking.
This teacher sounds fantastic. He can see the problems and is planning solutions. He is, apparently, being ignored by an administration that has been INSTRUCTED to improve it’s NAPLAN results. (Please don’t get me started on NAPLAN!) It seems that many educators, particularly those with no early childhood training, are falling into the trap of thinking that excellent results can only come from a traditional approach.
Does a traditional approach suit how every child learns…NO. Does a traditional approach prepare the children of today for the problems of tomorrow…NO. Why can the same content be taught with a wide variety of methods? How many studies need to be done on learning methods and skills and knowledge development for some educators (and administrators!) to realise that there are so many ways to help children to learn and become learners, that the traditional approach alone just doesn’t “make the grade” any more.
I think it would be good for primary school teachers to have a look at the new “My Time, Our Place” draft framework for school age care in Australia. Not exactly the same as the EYLF, but it’s fraternal twin, this new draft advocates play in the lives of school aged children…how very surprising! It talks about collaborating with children and learning through play…amazing! Maybe some of this thinking could go a long way to solving some problems for some children.
I always remember when I was teaching in an Early Education Unit (Preschool, Year 1 and Year 2) that I developed the “any method that worked” phylosophy. Anyone who has had to teach in the “multi-age” (at one stage I had every year level except year 6)classroom, learns that you must hand learning over to the children, because you can not control it all…and nor should you want to.
Whether a child learns their numeracy skills on a blackboard with a desk in front of them or calculating how much dirt is required for a garden bed in irrelevant…it’s that they have solved a problem, learned the skill and can apply the knowledge that counts.
Remember the problems our children will need to solve have not even happened yet!