An Analysis of the Australian Curriculum

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Introduction
With the introduction of the Australian National Curriculum into all education systems across the country, many questions and debates have occurred in reference to its effectiveness. From the often perceived conflicting curriculum definitions to the unfortunate failures of past attempts of curriculum implementation, every member of the community has an opinion on this significant shift in the way Australia thinks of its children’s education (Rudd, 2007). The Australian Curriculum however, has attempted to provide answers to these misgivings and societal concern, from an easy to use website interface, transparent developmental process and state/ territory inclusion of common educational individualities. The Australian Curriculums development has been that of promise and hopeful success (Brady & Kennedy, 2010).

The Australian Curriculum should make it easier for teachers to incorporate community and student centred learning opportunities within the classroom, whilst allowing for additional time and streamlining of assessment procedures, due to a short and precise teacher focused curriculum document. Therefore the current Australian Curriculum process is the best opportunity for the development and implementation of a world class curriculum that enables Australia’s future leaders to compete in a globalised world (MCEETYA, 2008; Shelly & Gunther & Gunther, 2012).

Definition of curriculum
Definitions of curriculum are numerous and often believed to be conflicting. This can be especially so when delineated by the intended purpose of the curriculum as well as individual bias from specific stakeholders. Wiles (2005) lists varying definitions for four common curriculum purposes; curriculum as a plan, as subject matter, as an experience and as an outcome (appendix 1). Upon analysing these purpose related definitions it could be argued that each different definition ultimately alters the detail of what can be generally deciphered as a common intent, with individual stakeholder inclusions of specific content.

Hutchins (as cited in Wiles, 2005) (appendix 1), when defining curriculum as a subject matter explains that curriculum should consist of grammar, logic, mathematics and the greatest books of the western world. In contrast Bestor (as cited in Wiles, 2005) includes the study of grammar, literature and writing, mathematics and the ‘mother tongue’ as the basis for his definition. As a result both academics can be seen to desire the same thing, extensive discipline based study; however have both included individualities perceived important to themselves.

In order to define its intent, the Australian Curriculum has attempted to simplify the term curriculum through an explanation of purpose and intent. The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) (2012a) simply define the Australian Curriculum as “...what all students should learn as they progress through school ...” [as a] “... foundation for their future learning, growth and active participation in the Australian Community” (para. 2). Through the defining of the curriculums purpose, the Australian Curriculum encompasses such academic inclusions of definition as noted by Wiles (2005) within its structure. As subject matter, the Australian Curriculum has included a discipline-based method of curriculum encompassing twelve learning areas with nationally significant individualities, through the incorporation of ‘Cross Curricular Priorities’. As a plan the Australian Curriculum has included ‘General Capabilities’ that ensure student future success with identified essential skills such as information and computer technology capability, ethics and intercultural understanding; amongst others (ACARA, 2012b) (appendix 2). Thus, the Australian Curriculum has defined itself as an individual curriculum idea through the incorporation of multiple intents within its structure.

Development of the Australian Curriculum and curriculum models...
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