Is a curriculum a why, a what or or a how? #digitalstudies #ictcurric

Have been thinking a lot more about the ICT curriculum and had a little Damascus moment earlier on. Often, when I have sat down trying to get thoughts clear about all this I find I get overly drawn to the “how” of teaching. This is fun, but ultimately back-to-front, I think. The why and the what should come first.

The first thing IT teachers need to agree on, I think, is the “why”. There needs to be a rationale to give it shape, to balance the competing claims of Computer Science, Digital Media, and Digital Literacy amongst others.

Next, we need to agree on the “what”. Given the rationale, what do we want students to learn? What attitudes, what skills, what knowledge? That, I think, is what we will be assessing the children on.

These two, by and large, are where I would expect schools to want to find some consensus and some comfort in numbers. But they are miles away from the “how”. I admit, I love the idea of schools doing hackdays, for instance, but that is my leaning. And to try to work backwards from “stuff I like” is not necessarily the most sensible approach. How these goals are achieved or organised can vary massively, from individual lesson plans like those being shared at #ictcurric, to the astonishing mindmaps of @teachesict suggested portfolio approaches like Brian’s. If you take a look at those resources, you can see that the how is a huge, flexible, customisable beast. It will, I suspect, and perhaps even should vary from school to school. It will depend on staff, on equipment, on children.

There is a huge amount of goodness to learn from all of the “how” resources, but I think the discussions would be most fruitfully centred on the why and the what. If we centre on the how, my fear is that we will spend too long discussing differences that we don;t need to be discussing.

  • I do agree on much of what you state above but on the other hand, as they say, “the devil is in the details”.
    My experience showed the importance of the “how” on numerous occasions, even when the teachers had the purpose (“why”) and the vision (“what”). It is the same with technology as it is, for instance, with whole lessons. That’s why two teachers with the same lesson plans and tools at their disposal can have two entirely different results with a class. Precisely because of the details hidden in HOW they engage the learners. It is in these invisible spaces, fluid and hardly detectable that much of the learning and engagement take place.

  • Hi Cristina – completely agree that the devil is in the details. And there is a definite chicken and egg element over which comes first.

    I tend to think, though, that we should start with some principles (why) before the what and the how. That is not to say that the how does not inform the why – I think it does so continually. But much like you mentioned in one of your tweets, attitude, I think, comes first and foremost. And attitude, for me, is decided on in the why, detailed in the what, and implemented, modeled and reinforced in the how.

    Perhaps all a bit theoretical?

  • uksuperiorpapers

    As always it is the parents and teachers who should make education relevant to students. Technology should become nothing more than a tool. Where alll can obtain access to hardware and applicationsif needed.Notebooks, iPads, and netbook computers — paid for with the help of state dollars — are becoming an increasingly common sight in classrooms.