Is curriculum a compromise we still need to make?

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In my previous post Would you share your search history, I was called out my a commenter:

"The student must have knowledge that is established by the curriculum. Everyone needs knowledge required for work, because the more prepared we are by formal education, the more likely we will find meaningful employment." (Note: translated as best I could from Spanish)

It is a fair comment because I've been promoting in this blog, a use of technology that promotes self directed learning, inquiry-based learning and social learning but I haven't (until now) addressed what this may mean for many of the artefacts of traditional formal education.

Curriculum was always a compromise. It is our best attempt to curate the crucial knowledge that was essential for knowledge of a subject. It is a compromise because to know everything is impossible. That is, complete domain knowledge is too big to know. Curriculum was our best effort when we were limited by the size of textbook and time allocated to the subject, as well as being limited by the teacher's knowledge and experience.

Four major shifts have occurred that lead me to believe that curriculum is a compromise we no longer need to make.

We are seeing an unprecedented generation of new knowledge being created. Modern technology has resulted in a explosion of new knowledge. Every two days the same amount of content is now created that was created between the start of the world and 2003! Additionally, facts are changing. New knowledge refines what we previously knew. To be knowledgable now requires continuous learning.

Students have access to information beyond the teacher and the textbook. The limitations of the teacher and textbox has been replaced by instantaneous access to high quality content whenever we need it.

Students are no longer separated from experts. Curriculum and formal education has until now been separated from "real work," and therefore the learning experience was simulated. This is no longer the case. Musicians can publish their music online in the same places as the professionals. Coders can publish their code and interact in the same communities as the coders from Microsoft and others. Writers can self publish. Photographers can share their photos, .....

The ability to learn is more important the what you know. All this points to a new reality, where learning is no longer about preparing, learning is about enabling. Work is no longer about work either, learning is now the work. We will fail to adequately prepare our students if we only prepare them for today's work force, we need to prepare them for the changing workforce.

So what do we replace curriculum with?

A well designed curriculum should prepare a learner to tackle authentic tasks in the future. I believe that if our students have authentic, real world learning opportunities they will encounter and master all of the essential components of an appropriate curriculum. So the result should be the same, except that learners will have encountered the content in context and more importantly will have learnt how to learn.

What do you think? How what we best reimagine curriculum in the light of what modern technology makes possible?

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