Child-centred planning is hailed as the answer to engage pupils in the new Curriculum for Excellence. But do we as new teachers have the courage to explore this?
At the start of term we are given schemes of work based on ages and stages, and what are perceived to be the correct themes in areas ranging from social studies to religious education. But could we not support children in designing what they want to learn by creating problem-solving, enterprising contexts?
In social studies, for example, children can be challenged to create a museum exhibition that displays their learning in a topic. They have to work together to ascertain what they would like to know about a subject and what they already know. These brainstorming sessions help us to understand what they need to know and want to know. We can then tailor a programme around it. The possibilities of children consolidating their learning as they show others around the museum are endless.
Similarly, in religious studies, instead of studying religious ceremonies through worksheets, why can't children plan their own? They would have to think about what they need to know and how they are going to find the information. This presents an opportunity for them to reach into the local community for resources.
Where Curriculum for Excellence may struggle is in the willingness of teachers and schools to move away from forward planning, towards more responsive measures. But participation and citizenship are buzz words in education - so let's get children involved in what they actually learn.
Jacqueline Church, Probationer teacher, Glasgow.