Given the chance, what type of curriculum would your students choose?

Many of us are all too aware of the notorious ‘educational dip’ seen in 13 to 14-year-olds. It is a dip that sees disengagement and demotivation in the classroom and is the focal point of the BBC Sounds podcast, ‘The 21st Century Curriculum’. 

Writer and editor, Varaidzo, considers her own ‘educational dip’, discusses the workings of the teenage brain and seeks to find out how the curriculum could invigorate, rather than turn off, students’ enthusiasm for learning.

Reminding us that the current National Curriculum is over 30 years old, Varaidzo talks to a range of professionals and experts and, most notably, asks students what they think. 

The students Varaidzo interviews highlight the fact that some of the lessons they are taught are similar to those their parents were taught, despite the fact that the world has changed greatly since their parents were at school. The students question the relevance of their lessons and show a real desire for a greater variety of curriculum choices. Sign language, climate change, politics and mindfulness are all mooted as possible topics. However, Varaidzo is surprised to discover that it is the prospect of learning ‘adult life skills’ that is resoundingly popular.

As young people grow older, their desire to be in control of their own lives and their instinct to seek independence seem to be their chief motivators. Preparing to be a ‘successful adult’ is what appeals to the students featured in the podcast; their concerns for the future seem to override their want for fun in the present.

While many of the adults Varaidzo speaks to cite creativity, innovation and communication as curriculum-worthy subjects, the students have a clear desire to learn about tax, mortgage payments and interview skills, which begs the question: how can the school curriculum satisfy the varying demands of the 21st century?

Read more about this:

BBC Sounds: The 21st Century Curriculum