The Contextual Curriculum™ – 3. The subjects

The subjects

Successful learning depends on having imagination, problem solving skills and thinking logically as well as the ability to read, comprehend and write. The focus of the contextual curriculum™  is upon English, Maths and Science, as a context to each other.

Science becomes the knowledge context in which to hang English and Maths, the humanities lend meaning and relevence to science.

Science becomes the knowledge context in which to hang English and maths, the humanities lend meaning and relevance to science.

all infused with the arts and humanities; geography, history and business as appropriate. Physical education is also encouraged as well as social skills. effort will be made at all times to make knowledge relevant to the student experience.

All associations in the curriculum material, where possible, are changed to local examples which can be readily seen and experienced by the child locally, and in everyday life. The children must be clear as to what they are learning and why they are learning it.

system

Effort will also be placed upon understanding the systemic nature of language, maths, science and culture. Systems-thinking places emphasis on us not to consider things in isolation, but to consider cause and effects, relationships, influences, and interactions.

The general approach to subject teaching is blended learning defined as: a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction and partly through demonstration and instruction by teacher/facilitators, and also from each other with students working in project groups.

starfall

Gamification of the learning – developing teaching and learning and assessment as a game – is used for the following reasons:

1) It aims to make learning more attractive, compelling and engaging. Children learn games naturally through their peers and they do so online and off-line. Treating learning as a game helps to breakdown the divide between school and play and communicates in a manner that is natural and familiar to students. It cannot be stressed enough that learning need not be onerous, serious, and difficult. Any decent teacher will tell you that a happy classroom is a learning classroom.

2) It aims to bring a dimension of competition to the learning, through the awarding of badges, medals and honours for reproducing, achieving, demonstrating and mastering certain knowledge, tasks, abilities and problem-solving. Those that can will compete to fill their spaces on their virtual selves mounted on the wall, those that are slower can then be helped by the more proficient and adept. It provides an opportunity for the older or more proficient to earn special awards in tutoring less able students. Providing that such help is acknowledged by both parties. Learning to teach will consolidate the knowledge and raise new questions in the highly capable.

3) It will reinforce groupwork in that all members of a given group must achieve a certain level of competency in order to attain certain badges, medals and honours that are only awarded at group level.

4) It provides a map for the individual student what they have achieved, and what has yet to be achieved.

5) It provides a means for continual assessments by teachers, highlighting areas that students need focused help in.

In the light of the above, it can be noted that the contextual curriculum is competency-based. Opposed to advance being based upon ‘high-stakes‘ end of term or year assessments, students will remain on a level until proficiency and mastery of the learning outcomes are reached.

Recent research stresses that global corporations search out those with a self-monitoring personality type, meaning that persons who can work alone without direct supervision or being told what to do. Not only this, such persons will also be aware of where they are at in terms of a problem, or can identify any lack of skills or knowledge needed to solve it.

International employers also want college graduates who can work alone or within a team, possess a good ethical compass, be consistently flexible and adaptable, and demonstrate planning and project management skills. These re the soft skills we will aim to inculcate in our student body.

blended_learning

With a concentration on the individual learner, their aptitudes and needs, children are grouped into two primary age groups – 6-9 year old and 9-12 years old.

Individual work will be benchmarked to international standards for the age of the child. Individual work is where the child focusses upon skills development including reading, writing, maths, as well as any problem-solving or research methods for their projects.

Groupwork provides the platform not only where children learn important social and interpersonal skills, planning, managerial and negotiating skills, but where more proficient students can support and aid the learning of those less proficient. Students find ways in which their voice can be heard. They must learn to be respectful to each other, diplomatic and flexible.

We aim to create intellectual curiosity. This means students which are always asking questions of themselves, others, teachers and the world around them. This is trait not only valued academically but also by corporations who need to hire young lifelong learners. There is a need to impart analytical & research skills, early to build inquiring minds.

Language

Most of the world’s top international boarding schools and universities use English as the language of instruction.The reason for this is not because English is a superior language, it is only the third most spoken  language in the world coming after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, but rather their is a extremely diverse range of source materials and literature in that language. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review remarked that “adopting a common mode of speech isn’t just a good idea; it’s a must.” They refer to English as the international language of business. It also dominates the education, science and cultural worlds.

English proficiency will open windows of opportunity for your son or daughter for the rest of their life. Our English programs follows standard TOEFL practice in that it places equal emphasis upon reading [researching online], writing [pen and paper and typing], listening [to media] and speaking

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. International firms value communications skills highest in their requirements.

Having the ability to listen, write, speak effectively and facilitate communication is absolutely critical in whatever profession you are engaged in.

A quick look at the ASEAN make-up will tell us that those members who were former British colonies Singapore, Malaysia and Burma have certain advantages linguistically, as English has at least remained residual there (it is still an official language in Singapore). The common language of ASEAN is unlikely to be Bahasa Indonesian (Indonesia by far is dominant in terms of population) but English (which is an official language in Singapore, and which boasts the ASEAN regions highest quality schools and universities).

Maths will benchmark to the age group and individual student abilities at international (UK or US) standard.

Science and design

Science and the other subjects are used to show and hang the use and relevance of linguistic and numeric mastery and efforts are made to fuse subject knowledge in child relevant ways. There is no point to learning English and Maths of you can’t or won’t use them.

The history of science is in part the history of how scientists came to look at the world they study. Scientific experimentation and observation have come to be defined by the exercise of a process called the scientific method. The underlying skills and premises which govern the scientific method are referred to as science process skills.

Science process skills refer to the following six actions, in no particular order: observation, communication, classification, measurement, inference, and prediction. In many ways this is how we all learn of the world and develop a model of how it works and reacts if we choose to do one thing over another. This is also the foundation of the basci experitial learning model of David Kolb.

kolb

 

Learning by doing and learning by trying is to be encouraged. and any idea can be subjected to analysis in this way – even the games children play within themselves can integrate into study with this broad outlook.

Children can have fun:

  • measuring their height and working out how much they’ve grown
  • on car journeys – playing number-plate games, adding and subtracting with road signs, thinking about speed by dividing distance by time
  • at the shops – weighing fruit and vegetables, budgeting with pocket money, working out the relative value of products by comparing prices and weight
  • in the kitchen – with weighing and measuring, temperature and timings
  • making models and origami shapes
  • understanding the phsics of marbles, learning maths using playing cards, understanding chance and risk in games.

They allow everyone to conduct objective investigation and to reach conclusions based on the results.

The first of the science process skills, observation, involves noting the attributes of objects and situations through the use of the senses.

Classification goes one step further by grouping together objects or situations based on shared attributes. Measurement involves expressing physical characteristics in quantitative ways. Communication brings the first three skills together to report to others what has been found by experimentation.

In the chart below we can see the relation of the sciences beginning with forming evidence or arguments used in thinking or argumentation (ratiocination or logic). Why are there so many stars in the sky? How would you count them? Are there animals in the local seawater? How many will we see? These [English language] questions lead us to consider what we can weigh, count, describe, measure, look for patterns – all maths skills.

 

scienceThe interlocking nature of the sciences

Physics is the tudy of nature that involves the study of matter and its motion through space and time, along with related concepts such as energy and force. Everything reduces to these concepts. Physics is ultimately concerned with descriptions of the real world, while mathematics is concerned with abstract patterns, even beyond the real world. But based upon observation and counting one can see relationships in nature captured in mathematical relations, and vice-versa.

Chemistry is the study of the composition, properties and behavior of matter. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds. Chemistry is also concerned with the interactions between atoms (or groups of atoms) and various forms of energy (e.g. photochemical reactions, changes in phases of matter, separation of mixtures, properties of polymers, etc.).

Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy.

Social science refers to the academic disciplines concerned with society and human behaviour. It includes psychology, sociology, anthropology and political science, communication and other fields including management and business studies.

All of the science process skills contribute to a larger purpose, namely problem solving. Problem solving is the reason for scientific inquiry, and forms the essence of it. A typical experiment wherein a scientist uses process skills and the scientific method will start with certain questions being asked. Based on prior knowledge and experience, the scientist will make an educated guess as to the answer or outcome. This hypothesis will guide the design and execution of an experiment. Problems begin and end in the social reality of everyday life, industry and business.

For example, maths word problems, English stories which involves local subjects with a maths basis such as “How many kilos of rice was in that sack in the marketplace?” “How many persons can it feed?” “Are beans heavier than rice?” “Where does the rice in the marketplace come from?” “How is it grown?” “Are machines used?” “Are fertilisers and pesticides used in its growing?” “How did food surpluses help in the creation and development of cities” “What kind of food is rice, and what other food types, and how much of them, does a person need to eat to live?” “You are the manager of a famous k-pop group, how much will it cost to stage a concert in Sihanoukville?” “What do you need to hires?” “Where will they stay?” “How much will their flights be?” “How much electricity is needed?”

Each child will have their own growing box where they will grow a small amount of a vegetable and some rice.

Each will also have a fish introduced to an aquarium when they enrol. There will be frequent trips to the country, factories, port and market to identify foodstuffs, and their supply chains and origins.

Moral and ethical stance

In the end both the outcomes of science and of business and industry For instance in 1999 Taiwanese petroleum company Formosa Plastics dumped 4000 tons of dangerous Mercury laden waste in Sihanoukville.  An alert came when one port worker died and rioting was sparked off due to fear of more illness. This is but one example of how industry, and technology, provides us with goods and services but typically at a cost beyond what we pay at the market and shop. It is critical that within innovation, business and industry an ethical stance is struck regarding production, and that regulations and public protections are enshrined in law.  This is why the foot of the above chart is grounded in legal and ethical debate and argument.

Cultural associations will pertain as far as possible to the cultural make-up of the class. Teaching will be secular, that is any religious, moral or ethical concerns will be dealt with as matters of philosophy and logic and as relative, i.e. the logical relevance of the five precepts of Buddhism and their link to the Christian ten commandments.There will be no conscious political leanings. Matters of political and religious persuasion are personal to the student and their home lives.

There will be a strong focus on social responsibility promoting an early understanding of socio-economic matters and concerns. Finally, there will be a strong input of ecological education with a focus on power saving, green technologies, and self-sufficiency.

One response

  1. Pingback: The Contextual Curriculum™ – 3. The subjects | labyrithicom

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