Feb 022016

Curriculum Design

Is it time to redesign your curriculum for the 21st century learner?

Curriculum Design -By Stephen Noonoo, February 1st, 2016


There is no question that curriculum needs to be redesigned, specific to critical must know information, aligned with 21st Century Learning and 21st Century Skills. Students currently are entering the workforce at a real disadvantage, without these must know skills and either end up unemployed or underemployed. These are not desirable outcomes, ever.


curriculum design

Curriculum Design – A new framework advocates for carefully curating what students learn. Is it time to rethink your curriculum?

It’s not a stretch to say that today’s educational paradigm is preoccupied with the “how” of learning. Educators are grappling — either by choice or decree — with how to incorporate digital devices, new learning standards, and more collaboration and critical thinking into the already-packed school day. With so much to do, who has time to take a fine-toothed comb through the curriculum or debate whether students still need to know the date of the Battle of Hastings?

But maybe it’s exactly the right time, according to Charles Fadel, the founder of of the Center for Curriculum Redesign and a visiting practitioner at Harvard’s Graduate School for Education. Fadel has previously written about 21st century skills and recently turned his attention to the “what” of learning as co-author of a new book, Four-Dimensional Education,” which is less of a teach this, not that manual and more of a framework for exploring the modern competencies students will need in a world where job titles and career choices are changing faster than schools can keep up. Recently, Fadel spoke with us about his framework, the appeal of inter-disciplinary subjects, and whether it’s time to retire the old Capitals of the World quiz once and for all.

What is a 21st century curriculum? What needs to change?

Four years ago, in 2009, I wrote a book called “21st Century Skills” — the moniker is now used around the world, but initially people were unclear that it meant the 4C’s of Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication and Collaboration. Now, people have accepted that. We needed to rethink the “what” of learning. It’s always been about the “how” in one way, shape, or form. Due to Common Core and its debates, it’s now possible to revisit that conversation. The question we’ve been asking is: What should students learn for the 21st century?

Reflect from your own life: it’s not just your own knowledge, but how you use that knowledge — your skills. It is not just your skills and knowledge, but also how you engage in the world– your character. And lastly, it is also about how you reflect and adapt in a changing world: your growth mindset and metacognition. That’s what the book was about: learning is about all four of these dimensions, not only traditional disciplines.

What are these four dimensions you discuss in the book?

We synthesized more than 32 frameworks from around the world. First there is knowledge — which still matters of course! It is not a false dichotomy of knowledge or the other competencies. It is knowledge and competencies. Competencies do not “float” out there with no knowledge base. But that knowledge needs to be carefully curated for relevance — traditional areas carefully revisited to make more room for more modern areas. The skills framework had become accepted: the 4Cs. The character side was a lot more complicated. Even to use the word character; everyone wants to call it something else. Sometimes the word is hijacked to mean morality. We really looked at what people were calling “attitudes” or “behaviors.” Character was a word that was recognized around the world — even though sometimes it has a charge to it. So we synthesized it down to six essential qualities: mindfulness, curiosity, courage, resilience, ethics, and leadership. Lastly, there’s meta-learning: growth mindset and metacognition.

Why do we get so hung up on the “how” track?

Curriculum Design – Read the Entire Article, Here


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curriculum design