Instructional-Design Theories and Models: Volume IV, The Learner-Centered Paradigm of Education

Edited by Charles M. Reigeluth, Brian J. Beatty & Rodney D. Myers       2017

Chapter 5

A New Paradigm of Curriculum

Marc Prensky

Editors’ Foreword

 

As a curriculum theory, this has some different kinds of components from an

instructional theory.

 

Preconditions (when to use the theory)

  • For all kinds of contexts in which purposeful learning is desired, both formal

       and informal.

 

Values (opinions about what is important)

  • The curriculum should not be the same for all students; students should have much more choice over what to learn.

  • The curriculum should be skills based (organized around skill sets) not knowledge-based (organized around subject matter areas).

  • The curriculum should be much broader, containing many more major topics.

  • True education is about people becoming good, capable, flexible people who can maximize their talents and reach their goals.

  • For a post-industrial society, the pillars of the curriculum should be effective thinking, acting, relating, and accomplishing, which should be taught directly, instead of by proxy.

  • Equating education with the learning of math, English, science, and social studies is deceitful because it no longer prepares students for tomorrow’s world, contrary to our promises.

 

Universal Principles

     Top-level skills

  • The four main subjects of a curriculum to prepare all people for a useful and successful life are effective thinking, acting, relating, and accomplishing.  They are what students get assessed in.

     Sub-skills for effective thinking

  • Effective thinking includes: understanding communication, quantitative and pattern thinking, scientific thinking, critical thinking, historical perspective, problem-solving, curiosity and questioning, creative thinking, design thinking, integrative thinking, systems thinking, financial thinking, inquiry and argument, judgment, self-knowledge, and more.  These need to be taught systematically, in a way that is comprehensive and likely to get them acquired.

  • The subject domain for thinking effectively doesn’t matter, as long as it is of interest to the student.

  • There are some things that we want all or kids to think about, such as ethics and forms of government, but there are fewer of these than most people think.

     Sub-skills for effective action

  • Effective action includes: habits of highly effective people, body and health optimization, agility, adaptability, leadership and followership, decision making under uncertainty, experimentation, research, prudent risk-taking, reality testing, patience, positive mindset, resilience and “grit,” entrepreneurship, innovation, improvisation, breaking down barriers, project management, and more.  These need to be taught systematically, in a way that is comprehensive and likely to get them acquired.

  • The subject domain for acting effectively doesn’t matter, as long as it is of interest to the student.

     Sub-skills for effective relationships

  • Effective relationships include: Communication and collaboration (one-to-one, in teams, in families, in communities, at work, online, in virtual worlds), listening, networking, relationship-building, empathy, courage, compassion, tolerance, ethics, politics, citizenship, conflict resolution, and more.  These need to be taught systematically, in a way that is comprehensive and likely to get them acquired.

     Sub-skills for effective accomplishment

  • Effective accomplishment consists of doing projects in the real world — small, or local projects and group and individual accomplishments in the early years, and larger, eventually worldwide, projects and accomplishments in later years.  This needs to be taught systematically, in a way that is comprehensive and likely to yield powerful results for both the individual and the community/world.

  • The focus for effective accomplishment doesn’t matter, as long as it is of importance to the student.

 

Different Situations

  • An individual curriculum should be offered for each student, but it should still have all four top-level, core skills.

 

Implementation Issues

  • Technology should be the foundation for implementation of this curriculum.

  • The teacher’s role must change from distributing content to guiding and motivating student learning, offering respect and empathy, and fostering self-directed learning.

  • A different kind of teacher training will be needed that focuses on the new role and at least one of the four core skill areas.

  • The new paradigm of curriculum will benefit from different approaches rather than the single one we have in our Industrial-Age curriculum.

                                                                                                                                                            –  C.M.R., B.J.B & R.D.M.

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