Australia’s curriculum gap is failing science teachers and students

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That was revealed by comparing the content of Australia’s science curriculum from Prep to Year 10 with curricula in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Quebec – the two best-performing systems on international tests – as well as Singapore, England, Hong Kong, Japan and the United States.

The authorities entrusted with writing our curriculum have set a minimum that only radical change can raise.

of Australian Curriculum Of these seven other curricula, on average, they include about half as much science content. Rather than offering breadth and depth, the Australian science curriculum is narrow and shallow. In the first nine years of schooling, the Australian science curriculum covers only 44 topics (compared to an average of 74 in other systems) and only five of these in depth, compared to an average of 22 in other systems.

Consider these topics: the nature of cells and organs, electric circuits, energy conservation and transformation, gravity, thermal energy, mass and density, and the state of matter. Most adapted curricula teach this text earlier than the Australian Curriculum, in depth and in clear language.

advocates of Australian Curriculum They say that this lack of accuracy is nothing. Australian teachers can fill in the gaps in the curriculum. Well, as a former high school science teacher and school leader I can tell you from experience, through no fault of their own, they can’t.

Like most teachers, I spent a lot of time with my colleagues creating content about what our students needed to know. Most non-teachers think that this work is already done in the curriculum. After all, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), the body that created it, says our curriculum is world-class.

However, I did not find that the curriculum helped me understand what to teach. I was not alone. Teachers have more than 20 hours a week to teach lessons and deal with hundreds of students. They are like that. Busy and stressed That they are laying off manpower in droves. Yet they are given so vague a document that sometimes the full value of science is expressed in a sentence.

When I look at the curriculum for teachers in other countries, the amount of content and the level of clarity and instruction is amazing. It is incredibly disappointing that this is not being offered to Australian teachers.

Curriculum sets the expectation that all students will be covered regardless of the school they attend. If the content is not in the curriculum, we are saying that a student going through school is comfortable without learning.

The authorities entrusted with writing our curriculum have set a minimum that only radical change can raise. Our science curriculum must be benchmarked against the best research and the best systems in the world. Then it needs to be rewritten from top to bottom. Only then can we ensure that our students are not left behind, but enjoy the best education they can expect and demand.

The author is a contributor to the report. Fixing the gap in Australian education: matching our curriculum to the best.

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