Tuesday 11 August 2020 ,
Tuesday 11 August 2020 ,
Latest News
6 July, 2020 04:34:39 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 6 July, 2020 04:40:04 PM
Print

Secondary English curriculum and its philosophical disconnection

Due to this philosophical disconnection between policy and practice, most of the secondary students in Bangladesh fail to achieve competence in both oral and orthographic forms of English language for their practical needs.
S M Akramul Kabir
Secondary English curriculum and its philosophical disconnection

Educational philosophy is the beginning point for the curriculum experts and the policy-makers. It helps the curriculum maker to frame, implement and evaluate a curriculum which is the means to attain the aims of a specific level of education in a specific context. Therefore, it can be said that a curriculum is context-specific with certain educational objectives which are again determined by a certain philosophy. Several core schools of philosophy are linked to different learning theories that again influence the foundations of educational philosophies for curriculum design and planning. The philosophical foundation of the curriculum helps determine the driving purpose of education, as well as the roles of the various stakeholders. Based on educational research and contextual objectives, there are five major educational philosophies to guide curriculum design and planning. They are briefly described below:

Perennialism: Arthur Bestor (1908-1994) is the dominant proponent of this philosophy in education. The curriculum navigated by this philosophy focuses on the inclusion of the topics or chapters or units to be taught that are universal in nature, such as fundamental social values, norms, and practices. Teachers are the main source of knowledge dissemination and learners are the passive recipient.

Essentialism: William Bagley (1874-1946) is the major advocate of this philosophy in education. The curriculum underpinning this philosophy focuses on teaching basic skills of maths, natural science, history, foreign language and literature along with moral values, determined by the society and teachers with mutual agreement. The nature of the teaching-learning process is also teacher-centred.

Pragmatism: John Dewey (1859-1952) is the champion of this philosophy in education. The curriculum underpinning this philosophy focuses on a learning system that is hands-on, interactive and creates meaningful and experiential learning to the students. As the curriculum tends to be learner-centred, teachers are facilitators, not the instructor to provide learners with learning opportunities to construct their own learning experiences.

Reconstructionism: Theodore Brameld (1904-1987) is one of the pioneers of this philosophy in education. The curriculum underpinning this philosophy focuses on a mutual and encompassing relationship between society and the curriculum. So, it puts the students in epicentre assuming them as central social agents. The curriculum aims to emphasise students’ understanding of social issues, and preparing them for combating those issues.

Existentialism: J. P. Sartre (1905-1980) is the key proponent of this philosophy. This curriculum underpinned by this philosophy focuses on human free will considering  students as individuals who are responsible to outline their future according to their learning styles and goals. As the philosophy of the curriculum accentuates the personal needs and interests of learners, the teacher functions as a facilitator to help each student learn at his or her own pace.

 

The National Curriculum 2012 for English (VI-X) of Bangladesh is mainly hinged on John Dewey’s philosophy of pragmatism. Dewey’s philosophy served as an anchor to the educational objectives of Bangladesh. Dewey (1907) in his book “The school and the life of the child” proposed that ‘Education is not preparation for life but life itself’. The quotation indicates that type of learning must be based on the learner’s surrounding environment and therefore constructs knowledge from his experiences. Learners should be allowed to explore their environments. This process of acquiring knowledge helps a learner apply his/her learning practically in real-life situations when required.

However, based on Dewey’s educational philosophy, the curriculum for secondary English education is very good on paper, not in practice! There is a Teachers’ Curriculum Guide designed by NCTB for the teachers. The Guide Book aims to make the teachers aware of the philosophy of the curriculum and its goals so that teachers can generate the teaching-learning process according to the curriculum. Based on Dewey’s educational philosophy, the curriculum adopted a policy for secondary classes to promote learning through practice and interaction so that a student can not only connect the classroom learning to his/her schema but also can apply that new learning in real-life situations.

However, due to this philosophical disconnection between policy and practice, most of the secondary students fail to achieve competence in both oral and orthographic forms of English language for their practical needs. Moreover, due to teachers’ lack of understanding about the curriculum, the same old scenario of rote learning and traditional summative assessment procedure is being continued. So, giving the Teachers’ Curriculum Guide to the teachers is not enough to ensure the classroom teaching and assessment in practice to achieve curriculum goals. Teachers should be trained in such a way that they become competent to understand the curriculum objectives of English language education and can coherently use different teaching techniques and methods in the classroom to achieve those learning goals. Therefore, pre-service training on curriculum is mandatory for the teachers.

According to the policy of NCTB Curriculum 2012, public examinations are supposed to follow the pattern of the exam questions in a creative way that can assess students’ cognition, comprehension, application, and higher skills. However, in practice, the Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISEs) frequently repeat exam questions every alternative year for the public examinations. This gap between the proposed policy and on-going practice of curriculum encourages rote learning culture rather than focusing on learning by understanding to assess students’ cognitive, comprehension, application, and higher skills. So, the gap spurs teachers to prepare students for the exams and students to learn only to pass the exam, not for life. These practices are contrary to curriculum goals.

A policy will not lead to desired results if the process of implementation is omitted from consideration. If the disconnection between the top-down (secondary curriculum for English education) and bottom-up (classroom teaching, learning activities and assessment) process of the curriculum policy and practice is not aligned, the aspirations of the curriculum for the competence of English language of the secondary students will not be achieved.

The writer is a PhD researcher on language education at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

SH

 

 

Comments

Video

Copyright © All right reserved.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Disclaimer & Privacy Policy
....................................................
About Us
....................................................
Contact Us
....................................................
Advertisement
....................................................
Subscription

Powered by : Frog Hosting