Recreating Knowledge:

These capabilities, practices, and skills of understanding are what we seek to develop through the school curriculum. Some of them readily lend themselves to being formulated as ‘subjects’ of study such as mathematics, history, science, and the visual arts. Others, such as ethical understanding, need to be interwoven into subjects and activities. The basic capabilities of language require both approaches, and aesthetic understanding also readily lends itself to both approaches. All these areas require opportunities for project activities, thematic and interdisciplinary courses of studies, field trips, use of libraries and laboratories. 

This approach to knowledge necessitates a move away from ‘facts’ as ends in themselves, and a move towards locating facts in the process through which they come to be known, and moving below the surface of facts to locate the deeper connections between them that give them meaning and significance. 

In India, we have traditionally followed a subject-based approach to organising the curriculum, drawing on only the disciplines. This approach tends to present knowledge as ‘packaged’, usually in textbooks, along with associated rituals of examinations to assess, knowledge acquisition and marks as a way of judging competence in the subject area. This approach has led to several problems in our education system. First, those areas that do not lend themselves to being organised in textbooks and examined through marks become sidelined and are then described as ‘extra’ or ‘co-curricular’, instead of being an integral part of the curriculum. These rarely receive the attention they deserve in terms of preparation by teachers or school time. Areas of knowledge such as crafts and sports, which are rich in potential for the development of skill, aesthetics, creativity, resourcefulness and team work, also become sidelined. Important areas of knowledge such as work and associated practical intelligences have been completely neglected, and we still do not have an adequate curriculum theory to support the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes in these areas. 

Second, the subject areas tend to become watertight compartments. As a result, knowledge seems fragmented rather than interrelated and integrated. The discipline, rather than the child’s way of viewing the world, tends to become the starting point, and boundaries get constructed between knowledge in the school and knowledge outside. 

Third, what is already known gets emphasised, subverting children’s own ability to construct knowledge and explore novel ways of knowing. Information takes precedence over knowledge, lending itself to producing bulky textbooks, ‘quizzing’ and methods of mechanical retrieval rather than understanding and problem solving. This tendency of mistaking information for knowledge leads to ‘loading’ the curriculum with too many facts to be memorised. 

Fourth, there is the issue of including ‘new subjects’. The need for subjects addressing contemporary concerns of society is important. But there has been a misplaced tendency to address these concerns in the school curriculum by ‘creating’ new subjects, producing related textbooks and devising methods of evaluation for them. These concerns may be far better addressed if they are incorporated in the curriculum through existing subjects and ongoing activities. Needless to say, adding new areas as ‘subjects’only increases the curriculum load, and perpetuates undesirable compartmentalisation of knowledge. 

Finally, the principles for selecting knowledge for inclusion in the curriculum are not well worked out. There is insufficient consideration of developmental appropriateness, logical sequencing and connection between different grades, and overall pacing, with a few or no opportunities to return to earlier concepts. Further, concepts that cut across subject areas, such as in secondary school mathematics and in physics, are not placed in relation to one another
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DSSSB, CTET & KVS Exam Preparation | Clear CTET: Recreating Knowledge
Recreating Knowledge
DSSSB, CTET & KVS Exam Preparation | Clear CTET
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