Starting from the Child: Teaching and Learning from 3 To 8

By Julie Fisher | Go to book overview

3
PLANNING FOR LEARNING
Decisions about an appropriate
curriculum

Introduction

Acknowledging the child as a competent learner should ensure that the starting point for planning an appropriate curriculum is the child's developing skills and understandings. These competences are established through the initial assessments of children described in the previous chapter. What children already know and can do should determine the experiences that are planned for their development (Bruce 1987; DES 1990; EYCG 1992; Ball 1994.) However, the imposition of an externally imposed National Curriculum and the introduction of first the Desirable Learning Outcomes (DfEE/QCA 1998) and now the Early Learning Goals (QCA/DfEE 2000) challenged the plausibility of such a notion. Many practitioners have felt torn between their early years principles, rooted in the ideals of child-centredness, and their statutory obligations to meet an agenda purporting to meet the needs of all children rather than those of the individual learner.

There is now, at times, a perceptible tension between the interests of young children as learners and the interests of their educators. Early years educators, like all of the teaching profession, have goals to reach, targets to meet and standards to raise. These are the outcomes by which they are inspected and against which they will be judged. Although the most recent early years curriculum guidance (QCA/DfEE 2000) attempts to be more learner-centred, the external agenda inevitably puts pressure on teachers to cover the curriculum rather than allow children, in Lilian Katz's words, to uncover it (Katz 1998). There is a pervading

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