A network is generally a large system consisting of many similar parts. Each of the parts are connected together allowing movement or communication between or along the parts. The purpose of a network is to connect. Connections are made through a common medium for the purpose of sharing. Networks enable collaboration and connectedness. They open pathways so we can engage. The value of networks is in the potential for spreading opportunity and challenge. They enhance joint creation and innovation by enabling the competencies, knowledge and expertise of the collective.
When we consider the way school curriculum is traditionally designed, we might imagine a clear hierarchy, of subjects, literacies and numeracies. There might be a curriculum structure where time is allocated according to long established norms or conventions. This view of curriculum design is rapidly changing.
“Most educational initiatives focus on signs of short-term success: doing well on assignments and scoring well on tests in the course of the school year, without much thinking about the long-term return on investment.” David Perkins
Key to developing a future-focused curriculum is determining what we believe to be worth knowing and learning, then focusing on the practice that goes behind it. The goal of a future-focused curriculum is to addresses the needs of all learners and empower the reframing of curriculum to increase and enhance networked learning opportunities. A future-focused curriculum is a ‘Networked Curriculum’. Adaptive, flexible and responsive. It connects all the parts of a students experience and opens pathways between previously unconnected areas of learning. It freely allows for the movement and transferability of concepts and capabilities. The ‘Networked Curriculum’ enhances agency, visible learning, problem-solving, metacognition and personalisation.
At HPSS we value “personalised learning, powerful partnerships, deep challenge and inquiry as they enable us to innovate, engage, inspire and empower connected learners who can contribute confidently and responsibly in our changing world.” A set of principles underpins what we decide and what we do. These principles enable a Networked Curriculum to take shape. The principles of leading learning in practice include authenticity, inquiry, collaboration, future-focused, supported challenge, student centred, rigour, flexible and responsive.
In his book ‘Future Wise: Educating Our Children for a Changing World’, David Perkins explains that “a curriculum of much wider than traditional scope speaks more powerfully to the lives learners are likely to live.” His suggestion is to seek a flexible network structure that is more responsive and expansive in meeting student needs. He admits there is no ideal curriculum, however he suggests focusing on four big understandings in curriculum design. These understandings are:
- Big in INSIGHT – reveal how our world works.
- Big in ACTION – empowers us to take action.
- Big in ETHICS – encourages us to be more moral, caring, and humane.
- Big in OPPORTUNITY – comes up in significant ways in varied circumstances.
As we move from a traditional setting to a more networked structure in our curriculum design what is needed, more than ever before, is the time for conversations by educators around what we believe is worth knowing and learning, to map that sequence out so we articulate what we value and then to make the vision a reality.
“Knowledge is good to know only if there are occasions that call on it and keep it alive and available. To be worth knowing, knowledge has to go somewhere.” David Perkins