Curriculum for Excellence – perhaps we can’t see the trees for the wood?

It seems like it’s open season on Curriculum for Excellence with various individuals and groups seeking to attack or defend Scotland’s new 3-18 curriculum depending upon their point of view.

It was this in mind that I wonder if perhaps we “Can’t see the trees for the wood”?

The traditional idiom reads “Can’t see the wood for the trees”   i.e. where someone gets so caught up in small details that they fail to understand the bigger picture.

My interpretation of some of the recent criticism of the programme is the opposite, i.e. they are so caught up in trying to describe the big picture that they fail to recognise the myriad of emerging details which come together to make up the whole.

That’s why when I’m working with parents I try to focus on actual examples of practice which exemplify the principles of Curriculum for Excellence – as opposed to describing/incanting the principles and capacities which tend make people’s eyes glaze over. I’m convinced that some of the claims about the wooliness of Curriculum for Excellence have been due to well intentioned attempts to decribe the wood – when a few well chosen desciptions of the trees would be much more useful.

Of course, there are still some details to be finalised – most notably in relation to assessment – but from a personal perspective I believe there’s more than enough for us to work on in a positive and creative mind-set which will be to the advantage of young people in Scotland.


One thought on “Curriculum for Excellence – perhaps we can’t see the trees for the wood?

  1. I too am fed up of hearing the big picture. We know that now. Now is the time to get stuck into the detail and delivering it. Every conference I went to last session was talking about Why we need CfE? What it’s going to lead to? There is now a leap to be made to actually get on with it, get stuck in and make it work.

    It’s time the debate moved away from lamenting it and using this as the cracking opportunity it is to make school a better place for learning that is useful for children and younge people in later and wider life.

    Even on Heads Together the debate hasn’t moved into practice. Last session, my team and I had got to the point where we were trying to implement Inter Disciplinary Themes in our teaching and we were coming up with questions like
    – how many areas and outcomes should we be looking to cover in a theme?
    – some of the outcomes are pretty obscure, are we going to have to provide experiences so children can engage with all of them?
    – when you actually get down and look at all of the outcomes, they didn’t seem to be very de-cluttered to us.

    Are people debating the big picture cos they aren’t willing to get stuck in and work at the implementation? Let’s just do it and debate the issues from within the woods. It’s time!

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