A big part of that, is encouraging our students to adopt a commitment to lifelong learning and acquiring the skills they will need to succeed in the future workplace, which will likely look very different to how it is now. Even just five years from now, more than one-third of the skills we believe are essential for today's workforce will have changed (Forbes, 2019).
In 2019, Forbes identified the 10 skills people will need for the future of work. These 10 skills are what we incorporate into our learning framework to make our students valuable prospective employees in the future workplace.
So, how do Wairakei Primary School foster the learning and development of these skills in our students?
With an integrated, localised curriculum - that’s how. Developing an integrated curriculum is essential to the future and the expectations of education in the 21st century (Education Gazette, 2020). Integrating subjects together and using a more holistic approach to teaching and learning will better equip students with the necessary skills for the future (New Zealand Association for Research in Education, 2017).
When it comes to driving a focus for the delivery of programmes of learning, we use a school wide concept, which changes each term. In Term 3, our school concept was 'Phunky Physics'. Teaching and learning about physics is about introducing students to the ways scientists think and investigate the physical environment. University of Waikato Facilitator and ex Physics Teacher, Stephen Ross, says that while physics can be very theoretical, it can also be very practical. "Teaching physics provides an opportunity for students to explore and confirm ideas about the physical environment we live in, through investigation and exploration, often in a hands-on approach" (Ross, 2020). Students can form hypotheses or working theories to make sense of the physical environment and identify these as science knowledge (TKI, 2020). Children are born scientists who are innately curious about the physical environment and naturally open to making meaning through their exploration and conversations with others (TKI, 2020). Stephen Ross describes how we often find that students already have a lot of prior knowledge about physics that we can draw on, they have just never specifically thought about it in terms of it being science.
The advantage of having a social wide concept like 'Phunky Physics' is it allows us integrate our curriculum into a customised, deep, and multifaceted learning program, that meets multiple valued outcomes. Physics is the type of concept that integrates well with a lot of other learning areas. For example exploring space, time, matter, or the many other intriguing elements of the physical world allow the teaching of skills related to numeracy, literacy, problem-solving, data analysis, communication of complex ideas, as well as a wider understanding of how the world works on a scientific and human level (Top Universities, 2019). It can also tie into other areas like health, physical education and music. This deep learning will increase students understanding of interrelated concepts across the curriculum so that they learn to think progressively deeper and in more perceptive ways (The New Zealand Association for Research in Education 2017).
When we combine our integrated local curriculum with the school wide concept, like 'Phunky Physics', we are then able to teach and enhance the necessary skills our students will need for the future workforce while also teaching the fundamentals across the New Zealand Curriculum. The Term 3 school wide concept developed the following skills of our students:
We know that we need to set students up slightly differently for the future now than what we used to. We need students to be creative problem solvers, who can work collaboratively and think in inter-disciplinary ways (New Zealand Association for Research in Education, 2017). Wairakei Primary School are dedicated to creating life-long-learners who will succeed with the necessary skills and tools to be well sought after in the future workplace.
Forbes. (2019). The 10 Vital Skills you will need for the future of work. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2019/04/29/the-10-vital-skills-you-will-need-for-the-future-of-work/#5bf581503f5b
Education Gazette. (2019). Developing an Integrated Curriculum; Systems, Structures, Processes and some Tips. Retrieved from https://gazette.education.govt.nz/notices/1H9sCw-developing-an-integrated-curriculum-systems-structures-processes-and-some-tips/
TKI. (2020). Teaching strategies and resources – Science. Retrieved from https://tewhariki.tki.org.nz/en/teaching-strategies-and-resources/science/
Top Universities. (2019). What can you do with a Physics Degree. Retrieved from https://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/careers-advice/what-can-you-do-physics-degree#:~:text=Typical%20careers%20in%20physics&text=While%20many%20physics%20graduates%20go,%2C%20technology%2C%20computing%20and%20IT.
New Zealand Association for Research in Education. (2019). Curriculum integration – Challenging the popular narrative. Retrieved from https://nzareblog.wordpress.com/2017/11/13/curriculum-integration/