Developing an Inclusive Curriculum
Are you interested in devising learning programs that are responsive to cultural diversity?
First of all, under the heading course content and design, the checklist asks if and how your curriculum content acknowledges diverse cultural values which build on prior learning, experiences and goals. Does it make explicit 'assumed knowledge'. Providing opportunities for children to access cultural knowledge and skills and experiences is essential.
Next the checklist focuses on the actual materials used. Are they inclusive and do they present people from diverse backgrounds, and if so, how are they portrayed and represented? Are there any stereotypes or biases present? People from diverse backgrounds include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, women, people with special needs, disabilities and learning differences, as well people from diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. Consider how issues of race, gender, class, disability and sexuality are addressed, and inequalities based on these explored and analysed within the materials used.
The learning activities children experience and the methods employed to teach children should reflect and be responsive to diverse cultural values. Children need to be given opportunities to interact with diversity in meaningful way. Does the curriculum content and methodology build on cultural diversity in the community as an educational resource? Does it provide for equal access and opportunity? In addition, does it avoid advantaging or disadvantaging particular individuals or groups? Learning activities and their assessment need to take into account values, goals, perspectives and experiences of the children and recognise that these are different for different groups of people or individuals.
Gender inclusivity was a key focus of the checklist. It asks if the curriculum acknowledges and takes into account gender differences, distinguishing gender-inclusiveness from 'gender-blindness' and 'gender neutrality'. It also calls for a recognition of the need for diversity in sourcing research (from a variety of perspectives and experiences) to produce inclusive, balance and unbiased information. Does the generalisations and references to achievement made within the curriculum content apply to both men and women in a way that does not reinforce stereotypes? The curriculum needs to encourage children to question how thinking and knowledge-making have been shaped by available sources. It is also important to ensure that the range of teaching and learning opportunities on offer as well as the assessment methods used cater for a diversity of learning styles and are accessible to both genders.
Equally important is creating a curriculum that is inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as Australia's original occupants. Activities and materials need to culturally appropriate and accurately represent the effects of colonisation and occupation on Aboriginal communities and people, in both historical and contemporary contexts. Learning experiences need to encourage children to question how knowledge and thinking are shaped by racial categories and stereotypes. Do they include the opportunity to allow children to have a clear understanding of the dynamics and background of the local Aboriginal community? And finally the checklist asks, in what ways does your teaching support and encourage the development of effective personal relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students?
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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