Sunday, April 10, 2005
'Haiku Curriculum' - simple and deep!
At some point the Japanese threw away complex poetic forms and invented haiku.
This is what we ought to do with our current incoherent curriculums!
Since the 90s schools worldwide have had to implement a complex set of curriculums imposed on them by ‘experts’ long removed from the reality of the classroom.
The New Zealand Ministry of Education, following the lead from other Western countries, is currently trying to 'slim down' or 'stock-take' their ‘obese’ curriculums which are, as one critic calls them, ‘a mile wide and an inch deep!’ Developed to provide coherence and a means of accountability they are now part of the problem. It has been ‘death by strands and objectives!’
The answer is the haiku curriculum – simple but deep!
Luckily there have been a few teachers who have struggled throughout the past decade or so to keep the belief in doing ‘fewer things well’ alive; believing in the concept of excellence rather than coverage.
The current complex techno rational ‘top down’ curriculums have had their day. Even the Ministry ‘policy analysts’ have come to this realization and no doubt teachers will see a real difference when they are finally passed back down to schools. Already we have been introduced to the new jargon of ‘key competencies’.
It has all been an unfortunate mistake.
Haikus are based on two key ideas – simplicity and depth; a deep response to intimate reality in contrast to the abstraction of earlier poetic forms. They are rich, real, relevant, focused and disciplined!
A ‘haiku curriculum’ is based on similar principles and reflects the reality of the students' own experiences. It is a return to the student centred idea of earlier days. A 'haiku curriculum' would be an antidote to the glut of complex curriculum and assessment procedures many schools are currently struggling with today.
A ‘haiku curriculum’ is simple, because it reflects the focused way creative teachers work with students, and deep, because it asks both teachers and students to dig deeply into questions of real concern, and also because it asks students to express their findings and expression with real discipline.
It is also about the ownership of learning (and assessment) being in the hands of the teachers and their students. It not only reflects the ‘artistry’ of pioneer creative teachers, but it also provides today’s teachers, struggling with present requirements, with a real alternative.
A ‘haiku curriculum’ is about poetry and not long winded badly written prose.