There is no real purpose to the continued existence of schools as such. There is no defensible excuse for denying children half their childhood for no reason, or for failing to do what you promised to do when you forced them to sacrifice their freedom 8 hours a day.
Even so, the World Core Curriculum Movement is not intrinsically wrong to try to identify the things that it is useful for children to learn, but the conclusions they have reached are, to say the least, open to question.
It is clear that they start with the more or less unquestioned assumption that government is entitled to fill the heads of children with whatever it thinks fit. Further assumptions transparently inspiring this curriculum are that nothing much will change in the world other than what they want to change, that more or less everybody is soft-left and progressive like them, and most importantly, and dangerously, that the purpose of education is to make the young fit the role-shaped holes that their betters imagine they can create in society. They are pure utilitarians, sort of modern Fabians. Other than that their list is little more than a collection of all the things they can think of that children might be taught.
There is no apparent recognition that societies differ greatly in their requirements and possibilities, and that children differ greatly in their abilities, interests and aspirations. There is no apparent recognition of the fact that what it is useful for children to learn and what society might need them to know are not necessarily the same thing. (If the main purpose of education is to allow one to make a better living, you need to be educated in the things that are likely to be most in demand, taking into account your own aptitudes, but society changes, partly in response to the effort, the interests and the skills of the people who happen to make it up at any given moment.)
They matter because they are influential. This is not some insignificant groupuscle wittering away to itself, it’s being used already.
Point 1 -- Our Planetary Home and Place in the Universe
Point 2 -- Our Place in Time
Point 3 -- The Family of Humanity
Point 4 -- The Miracle of Individual Life
Yes, they call it the Tetrahedron, because they’ve split it into four points. And in the original document there is a tetrahedron drawn above it in case you missed the significance.
These four points are all very well, by all means encourage children to marvel at the universe and our place within it, but it’s only the start, surely?
If you click the link you will see that the entirety of the Miracle of Human Life section could be scrapped- it’s not school material- and the rest of it is a basic primary school curriculum of the ‘getting to know the world around us” type. Well, perhaps not basic, but most of it is fairly elementary “who I am” stuff. All kinds of things that go beyond knowledge, all the things we acquire this basic knowledge in order to be able to do, the cognitive skills required to use it productively, and to change the world for the better, are summed up in one throwaway line that looks as though it wasn’t even finished properly:
Teaching to question, think, analyze,
synthesize, conclude, communicate
The following point I do find interesting, though, even if they have chucked it in a dusty corner of the list:
Teaching to focus from the infinitely
large to the infinitely small, from the distant
past and present to the future
It is rare to find people who appreciate the importance of a very broad temporal, geographical and social perspective on the universe, so bonus marks for that.
But it lacks imagination and ambition, it focuses far too strongly on ideas of civics and citizenship, of the ‘know your place’ variety, and it will, I strongly suspect, be implemented by the people like these, and like those described here. And it’s coming soon to a school near you, if it hasn’t already arrived.
They are planning for tomorrow with yesterday’s ideas, and it isn’t going to work.