Over the past 3 months I’ve found myself turning more and more to my Personal Learning Network on Twitter for reading recommendations. While RSS and my Google Reader account has significantly decreased the amount of time I spend filtering through various websites in search of interesting and relevant articles, I think that adding Twitter to the mix helps me make even better use of my time. For example, I came across this tweet from @willrich45 the other morning.


Pupils to study Twitter and blogs? Twitter and blogs caught my eye like flashing lights, plus I figured an article worth a tweet from @willrich45 is most often worth the time investment.

The link turned out to be to an article from The Gaurdian, a periodical that I don’t regularly follow. It turned out to be an interesting read, although the headline for the article really is a bit misleading. In a nutshell, the UK is proposing some significant changes to the core educational primary curriculum. From the article:

The proposed curriculum, which would mark the biggest change to primary schooling in a decade, strips away hundreds of specifications about the scientific, geographical and historical knowledge pupils must accumulate before they are 11 to allow schools greater flexibility in what they teach.

It emphasises traditional areas of learning – including phonics, the chronology of history and mental arithmetic – but includes more modern media and web-based skills as well as a greater focus on environmental education.

The potential overhaul to the current UK primary curriculum, would shift the focus from 13 “standalone” subject areas to 6 core “learning areas.” These new learning areas would not simply focus on educational technology, like Twitter and blogs, as the article headline might lead you to believe, but instead distinguish broad areas of content that students should be familiar with.

The six core areas are: understanding English, communication and languages, mathematical understanding, scientific and technological understanding, human, social and environmental understanding, understanding physical health and wellbeing, and understanding arts and design.

Seems like what this UK proposal is really pushing is an integrated curriculum. One where new media literacies are taught within the context of math, science and social science content. I don’t really believe that primary student study of Twitter, blogs and Wikipedia will replace learning about historical events, mathematical concepts or scientific and environmental studies. Much to the contrary, I think that those 6 areas provide a great opportunity for educators to expose students to new literacies as they learn about traditional subject area content.

What the article fails to point out is that the subject matter in the 13 standalone areas is not what is really changing. Rather, what is changing is the pedagogy behind the teaching and learning of these concepts. This progressive UK curriculum proposal acknowledges that  students are exposed to and interact with information in a variety of “new ways. ” This is something I’ve been telling teachers for the last few years. It’s not the content that you are teaching that you need to change, modify and update. It’s the way that you design and implement instruction and assessment that needs to change. That is really what is happening in the UK. Kids are not being asked to study Twitter and blogs INSTEAD of geometry and biology as the headline might lead you to believe.

My biggest take-away from this article led me back to the Ohio Academic Content Standards and the recently proposed change to Ohio’s education system by Governor Ted Strickland. I hope that the State of Ohio can follow the UK’s lead as our state looks to begin working to revise curriculum, standards and professional development as part of the governor’s P-16 education reform plan.

Here are a couple of things that Ohio educators and leaders need to keep in mind as we start down this path.

  1. Things are going to change. New technologies require a shift to new pedagogy — something that classroom teachers will need support and training in.
  2. Things are going to be different. New pedagogy means education reform — something that teacher unions need to understand the need for and work proactively with state and district leadership to implement.
  3. These changes and differences in the current educational system are absolutely necessary and crucial to the success of our students.

The challenge for Ohio lawmakers, district administrators, educators and union leadership is to find a way to work together to put aside personal and political intersets so that we can reform our educational system for the benefit of our students.