Curriculum and the Learner

In the world, today, education is the key to all successful undertakings. All and sundry is doing all that they can to ensure that they acquire the knowledge that they require in the fields of their own choice. Each seeks information in line with their career. This ensures that they attain the necessary knowledge in order to be taken part in the industry that corresponds to their course pursued at tertiary level. Scottish believes that the education system should be a centre for competent graduates are generated. This will be attained through hard work of both the learner and the school instructors. On the other hand, the schools put in place policies that gather for the special groups that the institution can employ in assisting them. Again the system is further developed to clearly incorporate other abilities in the final grading of the learner.

As we all know, males and females are treated differently in all aspects of society from birth, with an expectation for males to be strong providers who can cope with challenges and higher order thinking, whilst females are expected to follow the softer more caring pathways.  This principle is impregnated into many aspects of culture, ranging from the idea of housewife and male provider, males in woodwork and females, in home economics and females being paid less than males in workforce.  The concept is evident still in schools, which have been regarded as being male dominated in both terms of curriculum content, the manner in which pupils learn and the manner in which curriculum has been taught. During the early part, of the 20th century male and females often attended differing educational establishments, with curriculum subjects, Science and Maths prevailing in the male schools whilst homemaker; cookery and sewing skills were taught in the female equivalent.

The curriculum targets gender rather than the individual and in terms of learning, and teaching methodology, many teachers seem to be in favor of  the behaviorist model. In the 1960’s constructivist, cognitive and later connectivist theory came into favor. However, science has remained very much a subject whose curriculum and teaching style is behaviorist based (Byrne, 2008). This highlights the disadvantage imparted to females, while, on the other hand, inequality has been discussed, and steps put in place to eradicate the domination of education by masculinities, Science remains a subject considered disadvantageous to females. There have been recent concerns regarding male underachievement in schools, however, within the Science curriculum, female underachievement remains a problem. This is not a problem faced only by Scotland, but internationally (Null, 2011). This has risen controversial debates for the last 25 years; however, little has been changed in terms of curriculum or teaching methodology in order to address this issue.

Science is still deemed to treat males and females differently, both in teacher expectations, manner of teaching and curriculum content. Males are expected to excel within the curriculum in prediction making and hypothesis analysis, while females excel in literacy’s and presentation of work, and males respond to operant conditioning learning, whilst females respond to cognitive learning. In England, the gender bias within the Science classroom initiated a debate and a new pilot curriculum was introduced; 21st Century Science (Wyer, 2008). With this in mind, A Curriculum for Excellence follows the English pilot scheme, with a focus upon scientific literacy’s and novel teaching methods to include less direct instruction and increased constructivist, connectivist and cognitive approaches. One year into the introduction of the new Scottish Science curriculum, the inequalities in the Science classroom are reported to be decreasing; however, until the assessment is underway within schools attainment cannot be analyzed.

With schools driven towards attainment target setting and limited consideration given to the holistic approach given by theorists such as Rousseau and more recently Steiner.  This competitive environment is key in Social construction of gender distinction, and in turn, the gender characteristic influences the curriculum and teaching methodology.  There are further concerns related relating to gender inequality in schools and the observed social aspects relating to pupil mindsets. Evidence highlights that pupils continue to choose stereotyped career paths, while domestic violence towards females persists with 42% of school aged pupils claiming to know females whose boyfriends have exhibited violence.

Females are expected to produce a better standard of work, be more prepared for lessons and exhibit better behaviour in the classroom, while males are defined as being unprepared, present poor behaviour and lack motivation. Hildebrand describes hierarchical dualities of gender; discipline and creativity, reason and emotion, and objectivity and subjectivity, presenting justification as to why science resonates and helps to construct the masculine gender.  Males are seen to compete within the science class and enjoy the success they achieve as a means of demonstrating their masculinity in the social environment, thus motivated to learn through classic conditioning responding to reward stimulus. Teachers are said to ‘cultivate’ dependant learning in females by being too caring ignoring females strength in exploration learning, whist males are encouraged to engage intellectually and independently. This, however, is not the view of White, who states that, in every school there are males, who shun the masculine background of Science and thrive in the ‘softer’ subjects, whilst there are girls who excel in the male ethos. This could offer an insight into the social construction of learning, perhaps their social experiences have differed from the other pupils and their define gender roles are not as set as male/female and having shunned societies classifications of gender are suited to the passive learning and explanation of the Science curriculum using lecturing and demonstration, shown to increase male attainment.

The Scottish government published the Behavior in Scottish Schools paper, which discussed multiple issues surrounding behavior, surveying teachers and pupils to examine perceptions of positive behavior and low level and serious indiscipline.  Unlike the Better Behavior, Better Learning paper gender is included and finds teacher referrals to male pupils demonstrating more serious and low level indiscipline behaviors comparatively to their female counterparts, agreeing with the SEED publication finding male pupils are more likely to be excluded, affirmed by the Exclusion rates. This indicates an inequality in terms of how males behave in schools, reports of more aggressive behavior presentation and the manner in which teaching staff deal with male pupils in harsher terms. Better Learning does not discuss gender learning issues but does provide teacher proposals promoting a reductionist behavioural model of education to support positive learning, and discipline. The behavioural model of teaching and learning, defines a practice of using ‘operant conditioning techniques’ to modify the child’s problems and responses to these. Instead, this technique creates a hierarchy of power within the classroom, with teachers being observed as an assertive power, thus creating a masculine environment suited to behaviorist learning.

As previously discussed Science was founded by males, and, therefore, the curriculum has a very gender biased background, with a gender stereotype through its textbooks, topics and assessment practices, therefore, learning to be more suited to the gender, in terms of its structured curriculum and teaching. In terms of teaching, teachers have the expectation for females to perform to their gender stereotypes; hard working, non-confrontational and passive, thus taking a different approach to females in the classroom. Assuming that when females are quiet and working, they are learning and do not require prompting or pushing into discussion effectively ignoring female strengths in connectivism learning through classroom discussions.

The gender bias within Science has been reflected within the Local Councils pupils support department, with the number of male and female referrals to the department staggeringly showing subject difference depending upon gender. for this reason, referral for both sexes ranges from psychological, behavioural, truancy to medical, regardless of sex. However, when analyzing the subjects studied in the reduced timetables prior to referral it is clear that girls opt for the softer subject when negotiating with the schools; English, Modern Studies and Home Economics being the preferred, reportedly due to their real life context to females, therefore, females electing to seek constructive learning situations.

A Curriculum for Excellence was seen as a tool changing teaching methodology and one which can be used in dealing with gender inequalities in education, as well the Science classroom. According to (2011), the role of A Curriculum for Excellence (ACfE) as building learners' capacity to challenge inequality against themselves and others, therefore, constructing new opinions and access to the curriculum for all, challenging gender bias within education and aligning with constructivist learning suited to individual learners. This takes Vygotsky theory within the Scottish education system further, into the realms of the ‘Zone of Reflective capacity’ (Tinsley, 2009), whereby pupils capacity for learning can be expanded through collaboration with peers who have similar goals, using feedback, analysis, and peer assessment during collaboration to develop their understanding, which are all described as fundamental learning tools within the Building the Curriculum publications.  This has certainly been embraced within Science, with a curriculum expansion of levels 1-4 to include topics which have real life contexts to create motivation and excitement for pupils. This inclusion of real life scenarios supports constructivist learning and allows staff to select relevant experiences for the individual rather than gender, so that pupils take personal meaning from their learning, construct understanding from an active environment and use their own social experiences using coaching and mentoring to support collaborative learning. Building the Curriculum 2 discusses the wide inclusion of constructivist approaches in the Curriculum for Excellence and directly aims for Bruners intention of ‘meaning-making learning’.

Building the Curriculum 2 with the inclusion of non-specific topical and ethical experiences also lends itself to constructivism, as pupils can personalize and integrate new ideas into existing learning structures, which can be based upon social knowledge or interdisciplinary fields. For the first time assessment is being led by the curriculum, and, in turn, the curriculum is based upon the individual pupils with a range of experiences and outcomes staff can choose from to suit their pupils own needs and aspirations, therefore, bias can be removed by practitioners reflecting on the ‘genderless’ individuals aims. This focus on the process of learning, based upon tasks suited to individual cognitive development, rather than the result adapts the Science curriculum to a cognitive manner of learning, suited to individual, cultural and social needs rather than gender biased learning within the behavioural learning structures.

In order to be responsible citizens, the ACfE imparts to pupils ability to stand up for what they believe in, and the introduction of the ethical and topical experiences provide pupils the opportunity to study areas of controversial science which requires opinion development and the assessment of these areas are novel in comparison to the prior curriculum, using debates for areas such as wind power and plays for genetic engineering. This manner of assessment is novel to the Scottish curriculum and moves away from class tests. Aiding Constructivism, whereby the pupil is active within the learning process (learning by doing), and builds upon their social knowledge, using relevant experiences and outcomes, to suit their background and culture, rather than the direct instruction behaviourist model. The effective contributor capacity requires the need for teachers to teach to meet the diversity of the pupils, providing practical activities to explore concepts in the Science classroom, and that of their cultures. Thus, working to the Bandura insight theory, whereby pupils have the opportunity to experiment and draw their own conclusions based upon their own skills rather than a prescribed manner of undertaking experiments – constructing knowledge in a way suited to the pupil abilities and interests (Paterson, 2003). This making of connection through active learning and assessment is for learning strategies, such as group work, and discussions are fundamental in connectivist learning. With increased collaborative learning allowing pupils to make connections between old knowledge and new knowledge, and similar knowledge and opposing knowledge.

Learning can be defined as a collection of procedures, techniques and outcomes that bring about changes in an organism’s behavior, it also involves experiences that can be of permanent change to the learner. It enhances the capabilities of each of the student. This is because they are able to share all the information that they are acquitted with at a time. Studies carried in institutions that have implemented cooperative learning has proven that this method of teaching results in better and enhanced productivity of the students. This is easier since they are at ease while they explain to each other. Wolf (2005), notes that they are especially able to learn about certain procedures in details and a clearer way than in the classroom. Cooperative learning is successful if the students are properly guided.  This could be achieved through continued evaluation at the group level. Teachers could also involve the students in the construction of classroom structures. These would be helpful in ensuring that they get the necessary skills that they require.

While doing this, we have also learnt how to work in groups. This ensures that we are able to share information. As for the teachers, it is hard to tell whether all the students contributed to their group activities. Sometimes, students do not share their own responsibility; so if other students still want to perform well and get high marks, they will do more things for their team because of the group grades. Unless reported, it would be hard for teachers to realize this fact. Therefore, using individual grades is one measure to reduce this problem. Moreover, it is difficult for teachers to balance the members in each group. If the students are mandated to form their own groups, they are likely to divide themselves according to their social ties. Eventually, the antisocial students will be singled out (Paterson, 2003).

Studies show that a learner who is under sufficient can profit from joint situation by getting explanations from over the top sufficient learner. Though, when under-skilled individual gives enlightenment to an over-skilled individual, it serves to change his personal familiarity and thoughts rather than facilitate him.  Researchers also confirmed that joint students’ education surroundings increases learner enthusiasm and advance group skills. In addition to this, cluster education is valuable to all students.  This is greatly attributed to the fact that they have the chance to be taught from everyone and swap the information, thoughts, and experience. All of these direct to amplify their information, and understanding. Additional research has also shown that students’ self esteem can be improved by their cooperation in learning. This is because it increases students’ capacity to be productively involved in the group and their overall attendance. It was also evident that efficiency of supportive studying in primary and secondary.

One of the main factors that result in such small numbers of women in leadership positions is education. Education is argued by many as the best thing any parent or guardian can give their children. Education has many fields science being one of them. Inadequate education of girls and young women results in generations of women who are not properly equipped to take up leadership positions. These women then get the mentality that they only have specific roles in society, and that they do not belong in science related fields. Women learn to accept that leadership is for their male counterparts. This creates a major problem for the young generations of women because they lack women mentors and role models. This shows that education is the greatest way to change the current situation for the better.

In conclusion, it is evident how classroom interaction is beneficial in any learning process. The relationship between teachers and learners should be amicable because it will determine how learners response to questions and how they comprehend passages. Classroom communication is used to analyze teaching and learning. Communication is not only an instruction medium but, it also plays a significant role in developing classroom intelligence. Scottish schools have proven how prominent classroom discourse is beneficial in developing learners’ cognitive skills. It is, therefore, necessary for the teacher to use those approaches that encourage critical thinking.

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