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Changing school subjects for changing times

Rosemary Hipkins

This paper explores ways school subjects could change to meet students' learning needs for meaningful participation in the "knowledge society".

Drawing on selected findings of the second year of the NZCER Learning Curves research project, it describes three different "types" of senior secondary school subjects currently being offered in the NQF/NCEA qualifications regime and discusses how these might evolve in the future.

The paper explores the idea that we need more "intellectualisation" in curriculum and learning, and we need it for all students. It suggests that might be achieved through a reintegration of theoretical and contextual/vocational courses. New types of subjects need to be both "academic" and "practical". They need to combine traditional knowledge of the central organising concepts of any discipline with cognitive skills such as decision making, forming judgments and resolving problems.

Rich possibilities for such reshaping already exist because the NCEA has provided the necessary assessment flexibility, but some potential constraints are also identified.

Paper presented at PPTA Conference: Charting the future, The Way Forward for Secondary Education, 18–20 April 2004, Wellington

Learning curves: Meeting student needs in an evolving qualifications regime
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