|A Sense of Belonging - Guidelines for Values for the Humanistic and International Dimension of Education (CIDREE - UNESCO, 1983, 31 p.)|
In education systems a first requirement is to recognise the quality of those who learn and those who teach. Without explicit and implicit affirmation of the people involved in the educational process any venture will be doomed to failure.
In giving consideration as to how this dimension of learning might be made effective it is worth remembering the important shift in thinking that has occurred since the 1980s in respect of how we believe learning takes place. The move has been from a stage model of development to one that is more gradualistic and socially determined. A model where, as the learner grows and experiences the world, the minds scaffolding is gradually built to greater levels of sophistication the constructivist model of learning.
The basic tenent of the constructivist model is that we construct knowledge out of our experience. Such a model is particularly relevant in the area of education for humanistic and international understanding, since the construction of values is a central part of that learning.
Where traditional approaches to learning and teaching are principally concerned with the transmission mode of teaching and an absorptionist mode of learning with the curriculum as a course to be run, the constructivist approach gives primacy to the students own efforts to understand as central to the educational enterprise. The move from transmission through transaction to transformations.26
26 MILLER JP The Holistic Curriculum 1988
The characteristics of a constructivist approach to learning are that:
· the curriculum is seen as a matrix of ideas to be explored over time
· curriculum content and process are complex and interactive
· the teacher focuses on the students attempts to understand content
· the focus is on student thinking and sense making
· the teachers role is to access for the student powerful ideas from the disci pline or subject
· connections are made between subject matter knowledge and the learners prior experience
· it is important to engage students in authentic activity
· it is important to stress knowledge connectedness
· there are opportunities for students to make personal use of ideas to understand important aspects of their world.27
27 from Prawat RS Teachers Beliefs About Teaching and Learning: A constructivist perspective in American Journal of Education pp354-385 May 1992
Each of these characteristics has implications for humanistic and international dimension and is relevant to all subjects and areas of the curriculum. Each can be realised in all courses and learning situations. The constructivist curriculum is thus a network of important ideas to be explored. It takes account of; students enthusiasm for learning once purpose and relevance have been established; the rhythm and flow of learning between teacher and student, student and student and among teachers and students; broad goal setting to serve as guides; of ideas and their relationship one to another; a sense of direction without limitation to the ability to explore the conceptual terrain.28
28 from Prawat RS Teachers beliefs ibid