Redefining curriculum architecture to social needs


Shailender Kaur
Founder Head, Delhi Public School, Fulbari, Bhaktinagar, Siliguri, West Bengal

The curriculum should be developed in a way that helps the students to acquire the ability to innovate, think differently and solve problems critically and become future ready.

The world is changing and education needs to address the changing scenario. Tradition careers will disappear, new opportunities will come up. So, how can schools explore future relevance of curriculum, discussed Shailender Kaur, Founder Head, Delhi Public School, Fulbari in conversation with The Progressive School.

TPS: Given the reality that social structures and personal lifestyles have considerably changed in the last decade, educators have to possibly look at newer ingredients that would define a curricular architecture. What do you think are the important fundamentals that should go into the design of a curriculum of the future?

Shailender: The curriculum should be designed with a belief that every child is unique yet can learn irrespective of their intellectual and physical differences. Today the vast sea of knowledge can be easily accessed on the internet, therefore the conventional method of teaching becomes extraneous and insipid.

The main challenge lies in delivering the same knowledge in an interesting, joyful yet effective manner. The school curriculum, must be intelligible, interesting, and should stress upon making children active learners by focussing on learning by doing.

These days what we know matters far less than what we can do with our existing knowledge. A skill focussed curriculum should enable the children to add value to whatever they know. In coming years, many traditional careers will disappear, the students must be able to find and create new opportunities for themselves. The curriculum should be developed in a way that helps the students to acquire the ability to innovate, think differently and solve problems critically and become future ready. Aryabhatta, the renowned Mathematician and astronomer of ancient India gave the world zero only because he had the ability to think differently and innovatively.

The curriculum should focus on helping the children imbibe values and morals. This is even more necessary than simply focussing on academic excellence. We see many educated people with warped mentalities, they can pose a major threat to the society. We have an example of Hitler and Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, both were educated but the difference lay in the values. In order to make our society a better place to live, the values of empathy, compassion and brotherhood are a must and should be incorporated in every school curriculum.

TPS: In a global world, learning has to prepare the next generation both for local and global challenges. Bringing convergence between these two perspectives through various disciplines of learning is indeed a challenge and calls for fresh thinking. What would be your suggestions to a curriculum designer to address this issue?

Shailender: In this new era where we are dealing with major issues of climate change, imminent environment disaster and conflict resolution, the curriculum designer has an onerous task of addressing these issues in an effective manner in order to make this world a better place. The students should be taught the basic principles of sustainable development.

TPS: Do you think that we are moving from a “menu” driven model of curriculum to a “Buffet model” that offers more freedom of choice and caters to the personal aspirations of an individual learner? What kind of disciplines do you think are central to this “Buffet” delivery?

Shailender: Yes, we are indeed moving towards a buffet model wherein the learners, teachers, parents and administrators are the risk takers and need to explore possibilities together. Moving away from conventional system of evaluation and examination is of utmost importance for buffet delivery. Instead of assessing the students on the grades that merely represent how they have performed in a given time and in comparison to other peers, the examination system should test and reward the skills and critical thinking capabilities along with the qualities of character. Instead of focussing only on intellectual development of the student through academic instruction, we should build a good human being, a responsible citizen who can handle the challenges of life. Students should be able to strike a balance between studies and activities. We should be able to identify their areas of interests and give them freedom and opportunities to pursue their passions.

TPS: In the existing learning models, the learners are tested on what is delivered to them. Do you think the future holds promise for a learner to demonstrate his personal learning and achievements even in a composite and heterogeneous environment of the classroom?

Shailender: Absolutely! The future is waiting with open arms for critical thinkers who can bring about a positive change in the world; leaders who can lead by example and with courage of conviction. Future belongs to those who have the ability to do something that others didn’t have the courage to do, who did things differently and made a mark by standing out from the crowd.

TPS: What are the critical areas for the schools of the future to demonstrate their pursuit of excellence in education? Do you think that would be possible in the current models of school administration both at the micro as well as the macro level?

Shailender: Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and ensuring that learning is not driven by the fear of exams but the love of learning are some of the areas where schools need to work upon in their pursuit of excellence. Shifting the focus from spoon-feeding and rote memorisation to encouraging the children to learn on their own is another challenge but can be easily overcome by looking out for attractive and engaging ways to teach children.

Yes, it is very much possible to overcome these criticalities if all the academicians, teachers, administrators and parents join hands to educate students with an aim of making them become better human beings and keep challenging their abilities to think creatively.

Last but not the least, the curriculum should focus on happiness!

Shailender Kaur has a teaching experience of more than 19 years in some of the renowned schools all across the country. She has authored four books for children on mythology. She has also co-authored a history book for children. She is a gold medalist in English Literature from Kurukshetra University. She is Founder Head of Delhi Public School, Fulbari.