In different ways, countries offer certain basic or key learnings to pupils… language and literature, mathematics, history, geography and the like. Some parts of these are popular with some authorities and middlemen because they can be tested and quantified and statements made about achievements. When dominant outsiders control a testing program, these little testable bits from these subjects take over the curriculum and left brained actvities take over the school day.
During the past couple of decades, a very large number of curriculum additions have intruded into the school day and occupied more and more time….time that used to be given only to standard items and holistic development. Think of the school-time now spent weekly on things such as Languages Other Than English [LOTE], Instrumental Music, Drug Education, Multi-cultural Education, Outdoor Education, Excursions, Choral Music, Road Safety Programs, Environmental Education, Computer Programs and many other curriculum offerings that were not available until recently. Well-meaning lobbies, business enterprises, local community groups and various charity organisations also seek large slices of time.
Men had landed on the Moon well before any of these learnings and extraneous local projects were features of the school day. Most adults have never experienced them at school. They are new. They take a lot of time to teach. They cannot be ignored.
How do schools cope with the volume of what might be called ‘the new intrusions’? As important as they are for holistic development of the whole child, many do not lend themselves to the easy blanket, paper-and-pencil testing, favoured by efficacy hawks and educrats. Nor do many in authoritative control, seem to want to know much about their effect on school time. ‘Semi-controlled mindlessness’ reigns spureme.
Since blanket testing is now controlling school time, some of these ‘new intrusions’ have quietly disappeared from some schools and the remainder need to be considered for disposal. Time is a most precious resource and unless used wisely to help pupils do well on the tests, the school’s reputation is at stake. It is as serious as that.