The Australian curriculum defines what the young Australian students are to be taught, and the quality of learning expected from them as they advance through schooling.
The structure of the Australian curriculum
Generally, the overall structure of the Australian curriculum is constant across learning areas. It entails the following elements:
• A rationale-It shows the position and intent of the learning area in the curriculum.
• Aims- They portray the learning imparted in the students from learning the curriculum.
• An organization overview- It provides an outline of how the curriculum in a particular area will be organized, from Prep to Year 12.
• Content descriptions-They specify the teaching expected from the teachers, and go hand in hand with elaborations that specify the content descriptions.
• Achievement standards-They illustrate the quality of learning that is expected of learners and they go along with work samples, which indicate the achievement standards through the annotated work of the students.
• General capabilities- They illustrate a set of skills, conduct and dispositions applicable across content based on the subjects.
• Cross-curriculum priorities-They uphold the significance of the curriculum to the students' lives and addresses the present-day issues they encounter.
Organization of the Curriculum with regard to:
- Scope of the Australian Curriculum
It is written to explain the growth and maturity of young people across the schooling years. It considers the diverse requirements of the entire Australian students, as well as, the knowledge, skills and understanding that the students are required to learn with regard to cross-curriculum priorities, learning areas and general capabilities. It focuses on design and technology, civics and citizenship, business, health and physical education, information and communications technology and economics. It explains to the teachers the content to be taught, and dictates to the students, what to learn and the level of quality learning expected from them. Its clarity enables schools to decide on how best to execute the curriculum, drawing on amalgamated approaches where essential. They also adopt instructive approaches that account for the students' needs and interests, as well as, of the school and community.
- Levels of learning
The curriculum focuses on offering an entitlement to all students, while recognizing that the students' needs and interests are subject to vary. As such, it aims to support teachers and schools, in response to the varying needs and interests. It conveys what the students need to learn and highlights the extra learning alternatives.
The levels of learning in the Australian Curriculum as are as follows:
Foundation Year to Year 2
This level entails students ranging from five to eight years of age. The curriculum realizes the significance of building relationships, language and communication. It prioritizes foundation knowledge in children, as well as, understanding and skills required to be developed in the children, so as to increase their chances for progressive learning.
Essentially, this level gives priority to numeracy (in Mathematics) and literacy (in English) development, since they are the foundations for advanced learning. Other contexts such as technology, geography, history and science strengthen numeracy and literacy. In this level, students have a chance to expand their affective, cognitive and sensory appreciation of their environment, through creative and exploratory learning.
Students at this level are normally 8 and 14 years old. The curriculum is organized through defined learning areas. It outlines and promotes connections between learning areas in order to intensify understanding and knowledge, since students are advancing from tangible to intangible thinking. Their thinking processes are more logical and constant, and they become more autonomous learners. At this stage, students value the learning they deem as significant to their goals. The transition process from primary to secondary school is accompanied by cognitive, physical, social and emotional changes. Thus, this level entails a more inclusive education. Additional learning is offered in social sciences, humanities, technologies and arts. Students can select extra study areas that match their needs and interests.
The middle and upper secondary schooling years are a transition to maturity. Students clearly perceive their interests, goals and strengths. At this level, they regard issues of human knowledge and the environment. The curriculum broadens understanding and knowledge in each of these areas. It considers numerous aspects of the students, including opportunities to develop and deepen initial learning, essentially through national cadetships and vocationally oriented courses, in order to augment achievement and uphold student participation.
Senior secondary years of schooling (Years 11-12)
The curriculum at this level is written for students between 16 to 18 years old, with a view of providing students with better opportunities to make effectual choices, in and out of school. The choices are largely dictated by earlier accomplishments and enjoyment, future training, employment or learning alternatives, and the setting upon which the learning is to transpire. The curriculum offers more specialization opportunities in learning at school, through professional education and training.
The Australian curriculum has eight chief learning areas for Prep to Year 12. These are mathematics, English, Design and technology, Humanities and social sciences, Health and physical education, Languages, Arts and Science.
How is it related to the various models of curriculum that have been discussed in your texts and readings?
As other curriculums, it does not offer a specific approach to teaching. However, it does and should gratify the range of learners. Teachers have a choice to employ learning theories such as Gardner’s multiple intelligences and Bloom's taxonomy, based on their relevance to the students. An inquiry approach is necessary in History and Science.
How does the curriculum relate to various definitions of curriculum i.e. does it encompass a broad view or a very specific view of curriculum?
The curriculum is inherently extensive in methods of content delivery. It does not endeavor to offer a specific pedagogy. Instead, it offers a range of examples and views through which to convey the content descriptions. The achievement standards are also extensive, with regard to the accessible assessment modes. Normally, the content gets specific when describing what must be taught in the content, as well as, the achievement standards, which depict the expected levels of achievement.
What view is promoted about the purpose or goal of education?
The curriculum promotes the view that education plays a vital role in molding the young students, who will assume future accountability for Australia. For it to serve this purpose effectively, education must attend to the personal, social and intellectual development of the young Australian students.
A good education is valuable to the students and the entire community, as it justifies their investments of effort, resources and time. Education equips students with skills that enable them to address the constantly varying individual and societal expectations, thus enabling students and society members to be more industrious, sustainable and just.
What view does it have about the learner? i.e. How the curriculum is informed by factors such as learning theory, philosophy and human development.
The Australian curriculum, both at the local and national levels aims for learners to develop a firm foundation in knowledge and acquire an affirmative perception of skills and morals that will further learning and present a stand on which to construct a solid adult life. The range of learning areas allows the learner to advance in the general capabilities, which allows critical and flexible thinking. This creates the capacity for effectual collaboration of students across disciplines, promoting innovation through translation of new ideas into practical applications.
With regard to philosophy, the curriculum strives to impart a pre-eminent role to the educational goals and purposes of the young Australian students. It imparts a positive contribution to the general capabilities the young students endeavor to obtain. Its design incorporates health and development as Unit 1's starting point, since numerous learners at this stage are at the initial lifespan phase of youth. The study of human development progresses through the stages, and it aims at expanding and enhancing the youth choices and capabilities, encouraging them to partake in their community's life, as well as in decisions that affect their lives, and allowing them to have access to health, knowledge and decent living standards.
What are the processes of teaching, learning and assessment that are valued?
Teaching: For effective teaching, teachers must:
- Partner with parents, health professionals, and other teachers as well, in order to share proficiencies and formulate solutions to alleviate particular problems
- Shun flawed assumptions about the nature of the needed expertise to be taught to the students, by being conversant with the necessary skills from the education system advisors and from other researchers.
- Develop a detailed and current program of subject knowledge, along with together with the development of the child and the adolescent.
- Have an ample understanding of how well each student learns specific skills. This is best achieved by using structured observation.
- Be well-versed on a variety of approaches from which to draw well-versed pedagogical choices, with regard to the learner's and the context's traits.
Learning: Good learning processes entail the following five aspects:
- Clarifying: Before beginning a task, the learner must know what to do.
- Exploring and selecting: Before undertaking the task, the learner must mull over the various ways of executing the task, and pick the most suitable way.
- Acting: The learner must do the task to an appropriate standard.
- Monitoring: During the action the learner must intentionally check to ascertain that the undertaking is being correctly executed.
- 5. Assessing and evaluating: Upon completion, the learner must evaluate the entire performance and check for ways the task could be improved.
Assessment: Effective processes for assessment incorporate the following:
- Assessment that directs and supports effectual learning approaches.
- Assessment that accurately and dependably measures projected learning results, especially in higher education.
- Assessment and evaluation that identifies and defends academic standards.
To what extent does this curriculum cater for the needs of 21st century learners?
It does not satisfactorily reflect the goal of the Melbourne Declaration, which is, that young Australian students should become creative, inventive, resourceful and ultimately successful learners. Students should be able to think rationally and effectively assess evidence, in order to solve problems in the numerous learning areas and courses, both independently and collaboratively. The segmentation in the curriculum does not effectively integrate across all the learning areas. The document fails to sufficiently focus on imagination, thinking skills and student engagement. Thus, it fails to sufficiently cater for the needs of the 21st century learners.
The Australian Curriculum is an effective document that guides the learning and teaching practices in Australia. The efficiency of the scope and structure of the curriculum has been successful over the years, by producing innovative and well-informed students, hence promoting the positive advancement and growth of the Australian Community in its entirety.