The curriculum acts as a guideline for any nation or a learning system determining how learners will be taught, how the teachers will teach, relevance of an education system towards the targeted outcome and the setting of a targets and how they will be met. A curriculum that lacks in any of these core values and does not have measure to help in minimizing the negative effects of lacking one of the characteristics may prove to be a burden rather than a solution. A curriculum is therefore supposed to be a guide and not barrier towards achieving the target goals for the nation and for the scholars. There is the need to make a curriculum a consultative process and not a dictatorship of ideas from a few individuals. The Australian curriculum has been under scrutiny by various scholars and governments with a view that the curriculum is outdated and so it may not bear the results that would help Australia face her current and future troubles. It is for this reason that scholars have raised alarm in response and hoping to adjust the curriculum to be more helpful than a stumbling block for development in Australia and for the well being of the learners.
One of the strongest reasons for opposition of the curriculum is that it hinders the students’ creativity. The curriculum has set much focus on ensuring that students are able to read and also on ensuring that they have a relatively sharp response in numeracy. (August, 1998: p. 35). However, these are not the means to achieving the maximum potential of the students. There is a lot that determines the exploitation of a student’s potential other than perfecting numeracy being literate. The proposed curriculum does not give much room for development of the creativity of the learners. The learners are restricted towards facing the difficult examination and making them have very little time to showcase their creative side which is mainly the point through which students can develop themselves and develop the nation. The emphasis on literacy and numeracy fails to consider other technically applicable aspects of education such as the arts and sciences which are more applicable and based on the creativity of the student (AEC & Curriculum Corporation, 1994: p. 45).
The proposed curriculum also lacks the prescriptive aspect especially to the teachers. Although it is difficult to measure how successful and efficient the teaching model is, it is important to have a control and a means of measuring the success (p.45). From the proposed curriculum, the most emphasized on means of measuring the success is the performance in the exams and it is made worse by the fact that the exams are not set on the application of the what is learnt but they are rather focused more on literacy. Therefore the teachers’ work has to turn to that of ensuring that the students pass in the exams. Therefore the teachers who manage to get the best results from the exams are regarded as better performers even if they never focused on helping the students learn how to apply what they learnt. The curriculum is therefore not prescriptive in describing what the teachers should achieve and also come up with a way of exploiting the full potential of the students
The curriculum has also been criticized due to its characteristic rigid nature. It is not flexible for the likely changes that may occur during the nine years of studying. In a fast changing world, there are so many changes occurring and one of the most common is the change itself. There is the need to come up with a means of ensuring flexibility in virtually all aspects of life and this does not exclude the education system. There are so many unforeseeable happenings throughout the life of human beings and a characteristic that could be of much help is the capability to withstand these changes. It is for this reason that the curriculum is facing the criticism for being so rigid (Hamston & Murdoch, 2004: p. 74).
A student may be intentioned to take one line of specialization but realize later on that that is not what suits him best or maybe he or she realizes that he or she has a different talent or capability thereby necessitating the change from the course take earlier. However, with such an inflexible curriculum, the student will have to stick to the line taken earlier on and so there will unwillingness from the student to stick to that line or course. The outcome for this may be low performance in the exams or inability to translate the class performance in real life situation. The curriculum is limited in allowing the students have the freedom that can enable them do what they can do best and not it only to fate (Catholic Education Office, 1995: p.34).
At the age when most of the students are expected to make decisions on what they want to pursue it should be an age when the children can make their own decisions with confidence and personal assessment. The age at which the students are in year 9-10 and 11-12 may be limited in decision making as they may not be completely mature to make their own independent decisions. Although they may be guided by their parents and teachers to make decisions on what career to pursue, they should also be given the freedom to make their choices at a later stage. After experiencing a lifelong “dictated” curriculum they should be allowed to choose their line career based on their potential and not what the teachers and the parents think of them or even what the curriculum has dictated (Curriculum Corporation 1999: p.45).
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Even with the much emphasis on numeracy and literacy, the proposed curriculum intends to remove the some of the most applicable aspects of these basic courses. Although mathematics is basic for virtually all courses, the applicable parts such as geometry have been scrapped from the proposed curriculum which would most probably affect the overall outcome and even make the learners lack some of the most basic aspects acquired from the basic disciplines such as mathematics. This will leave the students deficient of the basics and the applicable and more generally required knowledge which they would apply in their daily life. This shows how much the curriculum is unreliable even though it is necessary as applicable in virtually all aspects of life (AEC & Curriculum Corporation, 1991: p.45).
The proposed curriculum is also faced by the challenge of being a non representative of all the states and so it will not be as effective in dealing with the high level of dynamism in Australia. There are so many differences in Australia regarding the economic status in the different regions, different cultural backgrounds and the political and political differences. For this reason, it will be difficult dealing with the differences if the curriculum is adopted as meant to serve the different people with their differences.
There have also been complaints that the curriculum is not in line with the Australian vision and plans for the future. They are more focused on what there already has in the country instead of a focus on developing and facing the deficient parts of the development plan. It is therefore likely that in future the children may not fit into the Australian job market as the employers will be seeking different competences which are missing in the proposed curriculum. For this reason, the curriculum lack of futuristic approach will be a big barrier towards achieving the expectations of a world where competition is increasing by day. It does not consider that when some of dropped skills will be much needed the students undergoing the learning guided by the curriculum will be the ones to show their competences (Hamston & Murdoch, 2004: p 18). Many politicians have pointed this lack of futuristic approach as one of the key reasons for rejecting the proposed curriculum.
Although the proposed curriculum is seen to have very many negative aspects which make it unfavorable for the many people and especially the students as it will limit them in future, it has some aspects which should be adopted by any other curriculum that will be drafted and implemented. It has an aspect of instilling loyalty or patriotism to the Australian nationality as it is seen with the much emphasis in the history subject (August, 1998: p. 36). It intends to scrap some of the parts of the history topics in the old curriculum and replace that with more Australian history. This will to a great extent boost patriotism to Australia as the current generation was very much unlikely to understand where the country has come from and the challenges which the past generations went through. This is important towards promoting the urge for the Australians to serve their nation as the case has been in America.
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The curriculum is also not disliked for its lack of content but because of its emphasis on literacy and numeracy which have made it lose concentration on other important aspects of curriculum which would make it preferable. Therefore the curriculum is not wrong but it should be expounded to accommodate other important aspects of a curriculum for the present and the future. There is always a negative side of any phenomenal plan but it should be one that can allow for change and be focused on improving the Australian situation for both the short term and the long term (Zadja, 2001: p. 24).
It is clear that the proposed curriculum is more defective than the current curriculum but it has some positive characteristics. For this reason it should not be considered as a total waste but it should not be adopted as it is. There should be more consultation so as to create a balance between giving the students a room to show their creativity and giving them other basic skills and knowledge that they need. The students should be assessed severally so as to clearly identify their strengths which will be used to decide what they should pursue later on in life. It is therefore important that if possible the curriculum should seek international support in its formulation which will help in development of a relatively complete curriculum. Merging the old curriculum with the proposed curriculum and amendment of the defects of the proposed curriculum will bring a curriculum that is very effective and for the learners and the nation.