I came across a diagram from much earlier, during my time as coordinator for environmental studies, a great title covering all the topic based areas of the curriculum, pre National Curriculum. It gave scope to consider the needs of the curriculum from the point of view of the child, seeking topics which would be both within the child’s ability to comprehend, but also to present opportunities which would allow exploration at the child’s level.
Put simply, classroom learning is children, context, engagement, guidance and adaptation, evaluation of outcomes. The whole captured within communication.
Remembering always the maxim that education( life) is a journey not a destination. (Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American essayist, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in the early nineteenth century.)
So history started as My story, based on storyboards created with a series of photos, then developed into His or Her story, with reference to parents and grandparents. Local walks to look at houses of interest started a link between History and Geography, with sketch mapping, drawing in situ or photos being taken (development time, much easier now?). Parents and grandparents came to tell their own stories, recorded onto c45, 60 or 90 tapes to be replayed and reflected upon. For homework, children were asked to telephone grandparents to ask a series of questions. Timelines were created throughout, so historical perspectives were constantly being revisited, as knowledge was added. And we got back to the Victorians with photograph based family trees, together with the accompanying narrative.
Building materials became the stuff of science, complemented by Lego or other construction material, as well as clay models of houses, made out of very small bricks, fired in the kiln. Trials with garden clay compared to the bought variety. One child brought in a tile found in their garden, which we took to the local museum to be told it was Roman. Visiting the local church we discovered even more tiles, being used as wall bricks and on the way back a local aunt offered the chance to have a look inside a house originally dating to 1580. I know, risk assessments, CRB etc. The Tudor context allowed exploration of timber as a building material. One idea often led to another, with settlements, including the Anglo-Saxon beginnings of the village being explored, with the support of the local history society.
In reality, what is a curriculum? It is a series of related contexts within which learners will enhance their understanding of the world in which they live, allowing opportunities for language acquisition, broadening communication, real contexts for writing and other recording. The mathematics of measures and data creation supported the core learning at every age. So the basics were the backbone of topic work. The contexts provided the creative structures into which the relevant subjects could be fitted. Asking questions and seeking answers were the basis for both library research and experiential science activity, which might be based on the notion of finding out interesting ideas to share with the rest. Every subject had value for what it brought to the child as thinking and learning opportunities. The art table was a permanent fixture within the classroom, with half a dozen children regularly interpreting information in picture form.
Those were the days.