Fri. Jun 14th, 2024
Babar Khan

The curriculum is considered a guiding document in our education system and teachers and students follow it in daily classroom practices. Curriculum standards, benchmarks, and competencies for each subject and grade that is a yardstick to make decisions on students’ learning and progress.  Furthermore, textbooks developed with reference to national curriculum guide teaching/learning process and the quality of curriculum and textbook determine prospects, learning dimensions and horizons of growth/development, however, I would like to draw attention to the alignment between curriculum content and society/real-life experience. The alignment I am highlighting here does not only refer to topics and themes, but to the entire curriculum framework, including subject matter, teaching approaches/methodologies, school environment, community/parents’ engagement, text and student connection, students and context connection, and bringing the whole society into the classroom.

It is essential to ask the fundamental question, “do all teachers have access to the curriculum document or does our teaching in the classroom based on the curriculum document?” As per my experience, all teachers do have access and use the curriculum document as a reference and guideline principle in classroom teaching, but rather most of them use textbooks developed centrally in each province. If we critically review these textbooks with the broader purpose of education and teaching in mind, they are not well-aligned with the context where students are engaged in the learning process. Most of the teaching process is dealt in a theoretical and abstract way, only explaining the concepts within the classroom. Students have little opportunity to relate concepts to their surroundings during the school day and classroom practices. Teachers are either not authorized to use texts from their own context, or they are not interested in out of box thinking to make their classroom vibrant and dynamic. As a result, students learn concepts using texts outside of their context and face challenges in assimilating the concepts. Mostly, they memorize concepts to meet examination requirements rather than learning something new, apply relational and conceptual learning principles.

Assessment of students’ learning is another aspect of alignment challenges, as we typically assess only knowledge in the form of what students can reproduce from the textbooks they have been taught. We are unable to design our assessment approaches, tools, and items that could gauge their understanding of concepts with reference to application and ability to translate that knowledge into action. The assessment practices do not allow students to bring context-specific analysis and wisdom to respond the questions logically. Furthermore, teaching approaches in the classroom are another dimension of alignment challenge that need to be examined, to what extent do teachers and students know why are they teaching and learning these concepts/themes and how are these relevant to their personal lives and to society they live in? Meaning by that students are not engaged in critical reflection, discussion, context analysis, and review of learning, where they relate and connect text to self and context. As a result, relational learning does not take place, and students face challenges in defining the relevance of education, resulting a loose definition for their purpose of life and career.

Therefore, it is crucial for educational professionals, academicians, educational planners, and university faculty to investigate this aspect of our educational and teaching practices. We all must contribute to opinion-making across academia so that we can propose some practical solutions and strategies that guide us on what we offer to our children and students in the classroom makes sense for them and to our society so that together we all address the leadership, economic, social, political, and ethical crises in out country. Therefore, it is significantly important to address the alignment between curriculum and societal requirement for quality yet practical nature of education and I recommend the following steps:

  1. Teachers are engaged and encouraged to use relevant and specific teaching and learning materials/text rather than centrally developed textbooks. Teachers’ independence is crucial for decentralized educational delivery without compromising yet following national curriculum standards.
  2. Help teachers promote a culture of reflective discussion and dialogue in the classroom with students and frame high-order questions that enable students to think about application, application, and synthesis level.
  3. Shift the nature of teaching and learning from a theoretical to a practical paradigm and ensure that students have an equal opportunity to learn concepts in the classroom and apply them in real-life situations. Engage them in service learning and community service practices so that personalized learning is encouraged.
  4. Design continuous professional development (CPD) mechanism using workplace learning model that encourages teachers to practice reflective practices, self-directed learning and promote community of practices. Thes CPD approach must be led by schools’ leadership and teacher to make it more levant to students learning.

By Babar Khan

Mr Babar is an Educational Professional with a hallmark experience in education, particularly in Teacher Education, and contributes to the enhancement of capacity and productivity of the organization, with an excellent set of leadership skills and commitment.

  1. It’s a great read. You have clearly highlighted the issues that are the most problematic. Me and my team is working with curriculum training for four years across Pakistan. We see teachers totally book bound and rite learning methodologies crippled. Thank you for raising awareness for the need to develop strong academic forces that should spread like tentacles to uplift the standards of education of Pakistan.

    1. Have you and your team been working on any program recently to address this issue or a national policy drive to eradicate the book bound and stagnant teaching methodology?

  2. Well-written boss. Most schools have to follow rote learning as students appear in memorized-driven examination at board level. Yes, teachers religiously follow management assigned syllabus to cover. I rather argue teacher can bring in other relevantly creative stuff in the class but they don’t. They, may be, are less appreciated for that which makes them shut down this practice.
    Alignment b/w Curriculum and real life experiences lacks.

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