All students deserve a good education. Minister Dennis Wiersma (Primary and Secondary Education, VVD) wants to achieve this with a master plan that focuses on strengthening language, arithmetic, civic and digital skills. This seems to be a fix for declining results, but it’s not. To prepare students as critical citizens to participate in a pluralistic and democratic society, an up-to-date curriculum is needed.
In 2019 brought Curriculum.nu issued a final recommendation with proposals for the content of new core objectives for nine learning areas. In the meantime, the Rutte III cabinet fell and the program renewal process came to a halt.
The new minister, Wiersma, has distanced himself from the large-scale curriculum project and decided on an approach in which the most pressing issues are tackled first. In addition, the Minister wants to ensure that the program is revised more periodically in the future to prevent “another generation of students from having to deal with an outdated program”. This finding seems justified to us since the current fundamental objectives date from 2006. The Minister is now beginning this process with the revision of the fundamental objectives in language, arithmetic, citizenship and digital literacy. The other disciplines and areas of training are not (yet) covered.
knowledge of the world
However, for a good preparation for participation in society, it is of great importance that students acquire knowledge of the world in order to better understand this world, near and far, present, past and future. This gives them insight into contemporary themes, such as climate change/adaptation, geopolitics, (de)globalisation, migration and identity issues.
The House of Representatives also recognizes its importance, as evidenced by a number of motions concerning the strengthening of knowledge on democracy and the rule of law, on human rights, racism, discrimination, the past colonial and migration history, on colonial history the history of the Dutch East Indies and on sustainability. To date, these requests have not been acted upon.
Geography and history
Because the old geography and history frameworks do not provide enough guidance for the development of new foundational goals, then Minister of Education Arie Slob asked the Curriculum Development Foundation in April 2020 (SLO) to develop a new collaborative historical and geographic frame of reference. with the unions…
Read also : History should once again become a subject for all students
In the meantime, the new frame of reference for space and time has been established with input from teachers, teacher trainers and other experts. This includes House motions and the framework is in line with the recently renewed Dutch Canon and citizenship goals. The Space and Time framework offers co-presented geographical and historical orientation knowledge, which students can apply in research to describe, explain, and compare developments in different times and places from multiple dimensions and perspectives. In addition, this new reference system responds to the need of schools to work in a more thematic or transversal way. This framework is ready to use and can simplify the work of reviewing geography and history objectives.
It is therefore very urgent to reevaluate the fundamental objectives of globally oriented courses. And this is perfectly possible in conjunction with the language and citizenship review. This coherence is already visible in the practice of education, and the Inspectorate of the academy also recommends this form of cohesive education. Large-scale research in the United States convincingly shows that teaching history and geography contributes to students’ language development. Knowledge of the world (historical and geographical) provides rich vocabulary, which contributes to students’ reading skills.
The question of coherence certainly applies to citizenship education. Without a global orientation with knowledge about the development and functioning of democracy, citizenship is meaningless. And when citizenship is developed separately from subjects such as geography and history, there is a danger that schools will have to work with an overloaded curriculum.
Reinforcing the global orientation with clear core objectives is also important in order to increase equality of opportunity, because what you learn at home matters less. Moreover, it is only with sufficient general knowledge that people can distinguish facts from fables.
If we really want students to have insight into the issues that play a role in society, to be able to make their voices heard deliberately, and for the material to be relevant to today’s world, then the objectives of learning must be in line with this. The Minister can no longer postpone the revision of the basic objectives for courses with a global vocation. The availability of the new reference frame for Space and Time makes this process simple and quick to implement.
“Food expert. Unapologetic bacon maven. Beer enthusiast. Pop cultureaholic. General travel scholar. Total internet buff.”