Mental Health and the Curriculum

By Ediger, Marlow | Journal of Instructional Psychology, March 2008 | Go to article overview

Mental Health and the Curriculum


Ediger, Marlow, Journal of Instructional Psychology


The whole student needs to be developed in the curriculum. Teaching and learning situations must reflect quality knowledge, skills, and attitudinal objectives of instruction. Each of these categories is important and the latter should not be minimized. Quality attitudes assist students to achieve more optimally in the knowledge and skills domains. They also help learners to get along well with others. Sometimes, students do well in knowledge and skills achievement but fail to work effectively in a group situation. Later at the work place, individuals have lost jobs due to not getting along. They have shown patterns of rude behaviors along with being haughty, mean, and brutish in relating to others. It behooves the teacher to plan objectives, learning activities, and appraisal procedures that guide quality learner behavior.

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The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) in their report titled New Compact states the following:

"Current educational practice and policy focus overwhelmingly on academic achievement. This achievement, however, is one element of student learning and development, and only a part of any complete system of educational accountability."

That's the starting joint for a provocative and compelling new report from ASCD's Commission on the Whole Child. The Learning Compact Redefined: A Call to Action offers a vision for education reform that embraces all the factors that influence children's lives and development.

The report's recommendations to local, state, and federal policymakers recognize that academic achievement is crucial but cannot happen without significant emphasis on student health, the school environment, student engagement, personalized learning, skilled and caring educators, and outcomes beyond formal schooling. Significantly, it calls upon the communities in which children live to support programs and policies that ensure success for all learners.

ASCD leaders say the report's recommendations can help close the achievement gap for poor and minority students by shining the spotlight on the issues that most affect learning (ASCD, March 2007).

Criteria for Teaching and Learning

There are selected guidelines that the writer will emphasize in assisting in the development of quality mental health among students. These standards pertain to stressing a wholesome learning environment in the classroom and school. Students need to experience that which reflects developing the whole child such as the mental, emotional, physical, and social. Thus, learners need to experience a classroom environment with the following involved criteria.

* Interest in ongoing learning opportunities. Interest is a powerful factor in achievement of knowledge and skills. It assists the learner in developing readiness for learning as well as in persevering until the activity has been completed. Each learning experience can be made interesting to the learner. With ingenuity and imagination, teachers and students, cooperatively, may design activities that attract, sustain, and culminate in interesting experiences. Learning opportunities that stress developing good attitudes need thought, planning, as well as implementation. The curriculum needs to be open ended to provide learner input and choice in selecting what is of interest. Voluntary participation with an inward desire to learn stresses the opposite of forcing learning and is a mental health indicator.

* Meaning in activities pursued. The ongoing lessons and units of study need to make sense to the student. Rote learning and memorization tend not to capture learner attention. They tend to make for restless inattentive children who do not appear to be engaged in what is being presented. Rather, meaning in learning stresses that students understand what is taught. To make sense and understand that which is taught emphasizes a meaningful curriculum. …

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