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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 September 2005) . . Page.. 3374 ..


government here intends to introduce the problem from which so far we have been largely spared.

So what is this problem? What is it that Canberra parents should be worried about? In a phrase, it is self-indulgent educationalist fashion, be they half-baked applications of half-understood, half-witted philosophical trends that hardly any professional philosopher takes in the least bit seriously. Like most academic vogues, its name is legion and it speaks in all manner of psychobabble and jargon. “Outcomes-based education” and “student-centred learning” are the two best-known labels. The word “critical” is usually somewhere in the mix of terms, along with “innovative”, “deliverables”, “progress”, “achievements” and “dynamic”. They are all proactively being work-shopped to the point of output exhaustion by educationalists across the country.

What it boils down to is a rejection of the traditional notion of the curriculum and its replacement by a set of defining criteria that combine the more asinine elements of managerialism with the dead leaves of flower power. This is no better illustrated than in the booklet “Future direction in ACT curriculum renewal”. On page 15 we are told:

Curriculum has been defined in many ways but the etymology of the word suggests a course (as in a race to be run) and so “curriculum” is most commonly used to describe a course of study, in particular the written documents describing the course or courses.

That is quite clear, you might have thought, and an interpretation that has served the human race tolerably well for a couple of thousand years. But today’s educationalists know far better than the fuddy-duddies such as Aristotle, John Stewart Mill or even Jean Piaget. As the document explains:

This is, however, a fairly restricted way of considering curriculum.

I think we would all agree that a “solid-hoofed, plant-eating quadruped with flowing mane and tail” is a fairly restricted way of considering the full dimensions of a horse. But at least this traditional definition gives us a reasonable idea of what we are talking about. However, we must not allow ourselves to fall behind the times, especially education times.

The document goes onto elucidate what today’s cutting edge, state-of-the-art educational theory has to tell us. Many educationalists now use the term “curriculum” in a much boarder way to describe what goes on in schools. And it goes on to describe curriculum as ways to identify what should be learnt in school; to plan for learning by developing courses, units and lessons; to organise learning environments, both inside and outside the classroom; to organise learning through the way the classes and the timetables are structured; to select content; to deliver teaching and learning programs; and to assess what learning has been achieved. In other words, curriculum has been redefined to cover pretty much everything that goes on inside or outside the classroom, so long as it is inside the school gate.

What has happened to the written documents that describe the course or courses? They are nowhere to be found. Incidentally, the evidence given by the many educationalists in


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