to the QCA for future personal-and-social-development work
10th June 2006
THE WAY FORWARD?
is considering 'blue-sky' thinking for the future of careers work,
citizenship, and personal-social-and-health education. It
is part of an on-going root-and-branch curriculum rethink for 11-19
year-olds. Everything is subject to consultation.
of the proposals is for LiRRiC - life-role relevance in curriculum.
It would integrate all of these elements of personal-and-social
development into a coherent whole, and it would make that whole
integral to the overall curriculum. Basing the case on a contemporary
account of learning needs, Bill argues we must do this now - if
young men and women are to find learning a satisfying basis for
sustainable action in their lives.
pdf of this article - together with the LiRRiC proposals
find further material
There is a
question which song-lyricist Marvin Gaye and sociologist Erving
Goffman agree lies at the heart of the human condition. And
that question is - 'what's going on?'. They have a point:
as a species we survive by understanding what's happening.
The question also lies at the heart of curriculum.
Curriculum subjects each pose their own take on the 'who?', 'where?',
'when?', 'how?' and 'why?' supplementaries of that base-line question.
The answers are what any society must transmit to each rising generation.
They assemble into a body of knowledge, skills and values.
The introduction to our National Curriculum calls it education for
'spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development'.
In its purest form it is 'academic' learning. Assessment systems
tell us how well students are taking it on board. It then
becomes attainment - pursued to high standards. Key curriculum
concepts here include 'academic', 'transmission', 'assessment' and
All is necessary:
after all, if our students don't know 'wassup?', how can they know
'what they're gonna do'?
It would come
as a bit of a surprise to many of our youngsters to find that academic
learning can be useful with the 'gonna-do' question. But it
can - helping a person to be (say) a more satisfied customer, a
more reliable parent, a more effective citizen, and an even-more
welcome lover - as well as a more fulfilled career manager.
Curriculum should be a starting gun, not a finishing line.
But we know
that the action only takes off when students imagine credible scenarios
for where and how they will use the learning in their lives.
And we know that it pays off when they have time, space and support,
not just to take on board required skills, but also how they will
deal with the social influences and inner feelings that press on
everything they do.
and pay-off realities should underpin all of psd -
and all of work-related-learning and education-for-enterprise.
The introduction to our National Curriculum comes closest when it
speaks of preparing students for '...the opportunities, responsibilities
and experiences of adult life'. Key concepts are 'meaning',
'relevance', 'transfer' and 'action'.
attainment is a necessary but not a sufficient driver for learning.
There are two drivers: what can be known, and why it is worth knowing.
Without those standards learning would be lacking, without this
relevance it would be futile.
If both had
been fully engaged, then psd would not be as frail and overloaded
as it is. But we may now be looking at a chance to make relevance
as centrally integral to curriculum as are standards. We need
not forever cling to the edge of timetable.
curriculum life-role relevant
Now is a good
time to speak up: the current QCA root-and-branch review of 11-19
curriculum is looking for blue-sky thinking. Among the proposals
is LiRRiC - life-role relevance in curriculum.
Because when people act on their lives they do so in role - it speaks
of where and how we use our learning in our lives. The role
scenarios may be of job-seeker, or friend, or consumer, or partner,
or one off the many other roles we each take on. The idea
reaches into every corner of a person's life. Life-role is
a credible whole-person concept.
does not clamour for more role-related space in the conventional
timetable. It seeks adequate blocks not squeezed-in slots.
And it organises that space so that academic standards and life-role
relevance share common ground. That requires:
> a planned programme;
> developing across the key stages;
> in a series of schemes;
> each in its own long-block time;
> each with its own team of academic, expert and community-based
> each pointing to how the learning helps in domestic, neighbourhood,
working and citizen roles;
> with time and space to enable students progressively to work
out why, where and how they will use this learning;
> each scheme based on a local appreciation of learning needs;
> each pursuing a clear set of outcomes.
this sometimes feature in psd now. LiRRiC will develop them
as the principle strategy - both for enabling learning and for positioning
life-role relevance in curriculum. It asks 'what's going on?'
and 'what can you do about it?' in the same breath.
example, a school or college were to find that year-9 students need
help on substance abuse. First of all, there are no surprises
there for careers workers: what people do about drugs links to what
can happen as a worker. But, more than that, what a person
does about drugs can also impact a person's life as lover, friend,
parent, consumer and volunteer.
It is the depth,
breadth and dynamics of this contemporary reality which demands
that LiRRiC is part of a unified curriculum - with academic and
life-role relevant learning as full partners. To know 'what's
going on?' students need expert sources - people who can help them
find out what they need to understand. On substance abuse,
understanding the science of biological effects will help, as will
the mathematics of probability, and the history of prevalence, the
geography of supply, the economics of demand, the media-study of
how people are informed, and the literature of experience. It's
hard to see how anybody can properly get to grips with the challenge
on any lesser basis. And it's also hard to think of a better
reason for probing all that so-called 'academic' stuff. This
is where 'academia' and psd make common ground.
LiRRiC practical enough?
There are two
starting points for practicality. Resource-based practicality
moves from what is available to what can happen - action is sometimes
rejected as impractical because we can't afford it. But such
'practicality' risks allocating scarce resources to schemes that
won't work. And that is doubly impractical.
starts with needs: it seeks the resources to fit the task.
The panel suggests how.