Democracy and Leadership in Schools

On 15th April, the National Curriculum Board was formed with a mandated to oversee the development of a rigorous, world-class national curriculum for all the Australian Students from kindergarten to 712, starting with the key learning areas of English, Mathematics, the Sciences and History. Pragmatism, the board was to draw the best performance from each State and territory into a single curriculum to ensure every child has access to the highest quality learning programmes to lift achievement and drive ups school retention rates.Australian educational leaders like in many other countries have a challenge of coming up with an authentic national curriculum which is best, and borrows from the Australian states and territories. Such a curriculum should inspire learners to have the desire to learn and continue learning and apply the knowledge in work and social environment.To come up with the type of curriculum which should serve Australia best, educators need to address several issues, like what has brought the agenda of having a national curriculum, global and national contexts which the curriculum should respond to, the need and purpose of the curriculum, best hopes for students and how to implement the curriculum success fully.

There had been differences in approached and what is taught in various states as far as the Australian national curriculum is concerned. The states emphasized more on local priorities than on voluntary national agreements.The Adelaide Declaration on national goals for schooling in the twenty first century (MCEE77A, 1999) felt schooling should bring out ideas of ethics, efficacy, self confidence, decision making and citizenship by targeting basic skills, vocational and enterprise skills. In the past, creating a national curriculum has not been easy, due to some factors that have to be considered, like the easiness of students transferring to another state, the financial costs and need to create a sector base for citizenship, and not withstanding the political and ideological differences of leaders.

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To initiate a national curriculum, there must be enough reason for the change, clearly understand the view of the curriculum, work and a conceptual framework, consult and enlist the support of all stakeholders. Borrowing from the lessons of the past, the national curriculum Development Paper borrowed from the lesson of the past, and its shows the intention of the Australian Government to come up with a national curriculum. A national curriculum should respond to the national agenda and the future in which today’s students will live.It should address the challenges of today before they go out of hand. The challenges may include diminishing sources of energy, water, arable soil, food supply, available medicines for new diseases, the increasing gap between the rich and poor nations, and international financial crisis. A national curriculum should help the nation to address itself to issues of environment, technologies, humanitarian issues, population diversity, regional alignment, security, the knowledge economy and globalization.An authentic national curriculum should be able to articulate how it will help learners in the twenty first century as they search for the truth of their humanity within Australia society and their participation in a global human community.

In a national curriculum, there must be a family close connection, the learning and agenda and moral and intellectual abilities of learners. The learners should be able to relate the curriculum with what is in the world, by making practical application of curriculum material to real life.Curriculum makers should therefore ensure content and skills and learning experience are tailored to local and individual needs. The ……..

and principles of teaching assessment process should here fit the learners personal and intellectual growth, and moral and responsibility of the world. There are several lessons to be learned from recent curriculum innovations in Tasmania Newzealand which failed due to ethical curriculum stance and resistance from politicians who challenged the traditional paradigm of what curriculum should look like and how to measure its outcomes.Curriculum building task requires the full participation and contribution of citizens in civil, social and cultural lines at all levels. Its an enormous task of developing and implementing a national curriculum in such a large scale.

Its therefore imperative to plan and think about the teachers, ……….. the curriculum and those who lead change. We should keep in mind the changes that will take place in the staffroom and classroom in order not to fail.Teachers need to accept the curriculum, given reasonable workload and appropriate resources, practical time allocation and developed professionally.

However, curriculum should be designed in such a way that teachers don’t make decision based on their convenience or their least discomfort. Without a monolithic national culture, a monolithic national curriculum wont work, but a multinational curriculum will.The curriculum should capture the national aspirations and goals, but should allow states, regions and local community and opportunity to implement in ways which reflect local realities. Australia, as a nation has started an ambitious venture in education, towards creating a national curriculum best to its citizens.

It must make a decision either on a curriculum satisfying discipline based structures and political convenience or and authentic and comprehensive one for the 21st century.

Author: Katie George


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