I t is evident that schools throughout England prioritise core subjects such as English, maths, and sciences and that creativity within the national curriculum is cultivated by various government directives, all aiming to introduce provisions of centralisation, standardisation, and vocational education. This article will explore how the vast amount of summative testing regimes, alongside quality assurance measures, have subsequently caused long-term ramifications to both educators and students. In a curriculum that is built upon reproduction of information, less drawn upon critical thinking and problem-solving. By exploring how standardising education will have a resultant impact on 21st-century skills. To this end, I argue that the outdated paradigms that underpin the national curriculum restrain the ability to allow creativity within the classroom. Students need to be able to read, write and add up, and think creatively. The current imperative is the need to foster every student’s ability to think creatively to allow them to thrive in the twenty first century.
The National curriculum is a set of subjects and standards used by primary and secondary schools so children learn the same things (GOV. UK). It is the heart of the Education system (The School curriculum 1981) and its aims are to provide pupils with an introduction to the essential knowledge they need to be educated citizens (National curriculum 2014). In September 2014 the National Curriculum sustained a reform which included setting higher expectations in Maths, a stronger emphasis on vocabulary development and Science shifting to a knowledge of hard facts; the re written national curriculum described by the prime minister of the as ‘’rigorous, engaging and tough’’. The National Curriculum throughout its history has been built upon what others believe ought to be taught as knowledge ‘ The curriculum is one of the means by which the overall aim is translated into achievement: educated men and woman are formed by being introduced to and initiated into various kind of knowledge and skill’ (Moore 1982). The emergence of the national curriculum announced in Callagahans speech consisted of a vocationalisation of the school curriculum, a resolution to the increasingly unskilled workforce (Simon, 1991). The intention was achieved by aiming the school curriculum towards the purposes of industry which in turn started the discourse of vocational education and marked the beginning of subordination of creativity in the school syllabus (Green, 2004). The Ruskin speech drastically changed the landscape of the education system.
The child centred approach to education enthralled by progressive educationalists such as John Dewey and Plato had been replaced by a structured curriculum conforming an emphasis on the core skills of literacy and numeracy resulting in a standardisation to education. Whitty (2002) argued that centralised regulation of the curriculum is aimed toward standardising performance criteria in order to expedite professional accountability and create or recreate, forms of national identity. An example of this within the constructs of the national curriculum in England is evident with the consistent requirement that schools focus on British history, ‘ Classic’ English literature and British Geography. Thus, such curriculum represents an attempt to foresee subjects in ways which create a rearward pull to the past rather than forwards into new globalised times.
Standardisation of the educational framework has diminished the autonomy of teachers and restricted teaching strategies suggests Davis (2000). ‘’Process of teaching and learning is predetermined, pre-paced, and pre-structured. There is little room for originality or creativity on the part of teachers or students [and] specific, correct answers are elicited to specific, direct questions” (Mahiri, 2005, p. 82). The epistemological questions surrounding content of the curricula can be a debate in itself. What ought to be taught within the classroom? Alexander 2005 states ‘ It is generally suppose that a curriculum should engage students with worthwhile knowledge, which requires understanding of what it means for something to be worthwhile: a substantative conception of the good’. Discliplines within the education system are built within a framework of knowledge that is conginuent and contextual but questions could be raised as to what is worthwhile knowledge? Philospher Kant, a rational thinker believed that we can work out everything, as far as we care we can work things out rationally and that there was a need for what we are studying. The content of the curriculum can be linked to Kant’s philosophical views, whilst ‘ curriculum is a collection of experiences that everyone acquires in educational environments…According to Kant when a person educate and enlightened in a good way, he gains to think mental power as logical.’Foroushani et el (2012). The rigid structure of standardised curricula and the empahisis on subject content places ‘ culturally approved’ discliplines higher in the subject hierarchy. In effect it could be suggested that education is a preparation for a class-divided hierachal society. Tomlinson (2002) argues that this process is similar to Marxist view of ‘ social stratification’. Marxists view capitalists societies as highly class structures. Through this stratification occursand this can be linked through to the economic activity such as work, as different occuptations correlate with different classes in society. Marxists suggest that the education system is stratified to reflect class differences. Livesey argues that there are stratifactions of subjects within the curricula that have correlation to industry. An example of this is that Maths, English and Science have a higher status in the curriculum than subjects such as Arts, Drama and Music. The prioritisation of certain subjects are another connection to capitalist stratification.
The Davis (2000) research found that the delivery of standardisation and rigid control of the curriculum was having an inimical effect on pupils’ creativity in schools. This research shown high anxiety among pupils whom were aware that the measurement of their academia would be success dependant on reaching standards of the national curriculum. This resulted in pupils reluctance to emerge themselves with being creative, and preferred to stay within the realms of the prescriptive framework of the curriculum. Whilst some suggest that the national curriculum is an inherent good
- Journal of Curriculum and Instruction (JoCI) November 2011, Vol. 5, No. 2, Pp. 94-108 http://www. joci. ecu. edu