The knowledge necessary to function successfully and follow a career was seen to already exist: It could be handed down from experts and leaders to learners and workers. In the Industrial Age, curriculum development was a matter of selecting the most important knowledge to transmit to students; experts decided what knowledge to mass-prescribe and in which sequence.
Jane Gilbert and Rachel Bolstad (amongst many others) questioned the traditional concept of curriculum development in their 2008 book Disciplining and Drafting, or 21st-Century Learning? Rethinking the New Zealand Senior Secondary Curriculum for the Future. Their words are quoted in a new white paper–sponsored by Promethean Planet’s Jim Wynn and authored by Gavin Dykes, Michael Furdyk, Sara Hassan, and Jennifer Corriero for Education Fast Forward (EFF)–entitled “From Learner Voice to Emerging Leaders.”
The authors agree with Gilbert and Bolstad and state their position clearly:
…This model of curriculum development is difficult to maintain given that it is no longer possible to accurately predict the type of knowledge youth may need as they move through life, the rapid pace at which technology is changing and new knowledge is developing, the rate at which career possibilities are proliferating (ones with which we are familiar and ones we have yet to imagine), and social, economic and environmental challenges are becoming increasingly complex.
They ask the question:
“How can learner voice help address these uncertainties?”
And the seemingly simple answer?
“By giving learners an authentic say in what and how they want to learn.”
This white paper will underpin discussion at the next EFF Debate, EFF6, to take place as part of the Education World Forum (EWF) in London at the end of January 2013. The paper–which will be presented by Sara Hassan of TakingITGlobal, joining the debate from Toronto–is an excellent summary of the issues surrounding this critical question, and the authors have been able to offer a combination of sound thinking, practical advice, and a way forward for those in education (still too few, I would say) who believe that curriculum design, pedagogy, the role of technology, and national education policy making all should be influenced and shaped by the voice of the learner.
The event will combine a live presence at EWF and a global presence via the magic of TelePresence.An articulate group of young education leaders will debate the issues around “From Learner Voice to Emerging Leaders.” The primary aim is twofold:
- To bring the voice of youth to the policy makers’ table, to let the young people hear some views on the big issues, and to let them debate them openly and fully
- To bring the policy makers (kicking and screaming if necessary) to the learners’ table so that they have to face up to the issues that are critical to the learners before they make their policy decisions
And it will all take place across a truly international matrix of connections, crossing countries, cultures, and communities.
The event itself takes place on Monday, 28 January, at 11 am, and you will find the link to the live video broadcast on the day itself on the EFF page on Promethean Planet. Promethean’s CEO Jim Wynn will open the EFF6 debate, which will once again be moderated by independent education consultant Gavin Dykes. Discussion will be led by Sara Hassan and three student presenters. Closing the debate will be Michelle Selinger, Director of Education at Cisco.
Twitter users can follow the debate itself using the hashtag #eff6, while there will be some interesting discussion around many of the key issues in the debate using the hashtag #learningmatters. Finally, a reminder that you can download the white paper