The Learning Renaissance

An Elective Component to your Curriculum: Promoting Student and Staff Motivation

The element of choice in the curriculum, at least in the UK, is a fairly obscure one. I’ve been involved in only one school in which the students were able to choose a course from a menu, other than the point at which they make decisions about their GCSEs.

In many circumstances, the curriculum is so crowded out with content that there is no space for additional elements and there is not the will to extend curriculum time. In these circumstances, some schools have opted for a so-called ‘Curriculum Enrichment’ Week at that time in the year when there is a little more wriggle room as examinations are complete and Y11 and 13 have left the building. I’ve always found this a strange concept… as if we are specifically enriching in this week… what are we doing for the rest of the year? Under-nourishing probably!

Whilst at the RSA Academy, electives became a critical part of the curriculum. For the teachers they provided a natural channel for their creative interests, and for the students they gave new opportunities to become more hands-on  involved in their studies. The attitudes in the elective courses were more relaxed and purposeful, once students and teachers were freed from examination pressures. Courses on the menu included allotment growing, poetry, pottery, drama production, fishing, motor racing model making and my own contribution, multi media film making. All these were packaged into eight week packages to conform with each term. Teachers worked collaboratively to develop and mentor the projects, giving valuable professional development experiences.

All the courses were output orientated which meant that project management and time management skills were to the fore for the students. The courses, being practical based for the most part, also allowed the students to move from theory to practise in their studies.

All in all, the courses could justify themselves in the sheer joy of shared learning, but the impact on the traditional curriculum and wider engagement also reaped benefits.

Heather Wolpert-Gawron shows how electives elements in the curriculum can provider a richer learning experience for students: The Case for Electives in Schools | Edutopia

About educationalist04

I'm convinced we can, as a species, do much better than this if we set our minds to being much more positive and productive towards our fellow humans. The solution is learning - creating independent and autonomous learners who can problem solve, innovate and create a better more equitable and sustainable world. My books, Future Proof Your School and Re-Examining Success together with this blog, explore how better learning outcomes for all can be achieved.

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