National Curriculum Framework for Malta – what’s bugging me?

So in Malta a new National Curriculum Framework is being proposed. There has been extensive work on the documentation side, with a great number of documents which indicate the direction which this proposed curriculum framework seeks. So well, the big question is “what’s bugging me?” I mean why is it that I feel skeptical towards its implementation?

I cannot really flaw the documents presented, so what’s wrong? As a starting point, I did attend the NCF conference/info session last Friday 2nd December in Malta, and there are a few things which left a negative impression; this is my 2cents worth of thoughts about them.

At one point we were shown a number of video recordings showing students, pre-teens and teens speaking about their views about the proposed curriculum. I mean, these video clips were staged – and if not staged then the students were very well briefed, which is akin to staging… why show these in the first place? do we really want to see what we want to see? do we want to show what we want to see? or do we, in the name of research want to see the truth? Is it too negative to be shown? better show nothing in that case, and forget about the term consultation…

Next point is this… the panel discussions. Aren’t panel discussions supposed to stimulate enthusiasm and as the term implies – discussions??!! helloooo… there were some panels, which were incredibly tedious, boring and 5 mins were not short enough. We were given lectures in the various areas of interest pertinent to the speakers, but unfortunately many of the lectures were hardly of interest and what was even worse was that they didn’t even answer the panel question which was glaring down at them from the screen… please give us a break…ha!

Another issue with the panel discussions was their lengthy talk. Can someone check if people on panels know how to present properly, maybe even be given basic courses in for example timing their talk? How can you try to stretch, beyond the wildest trails which imagination can hold, a 20minute (mild average taken) talk into 5 minutes.

The next issue was the voice of the teachers…those upon whom the whole curriculum rests. There was presence from academia, admin, directors and other societal organisations. A survey was held, numbers presented… but why is it that when I speak to teachers, I mean physically, I get completely different feedback. Why is it that teachers are rather unhappy in the way this is going to be implemented? Why is it that we haven’t heard the real concerns from the people who are going to teach it? We need to get to the root of the problem – we cannot simply implement a solution – or any solution if we are not aware of the problem is…

So this brings me to my final point. I am very worried about the whole change management issue in schools is in effect being managed. Does someone realise that many people are saying the same thing – complaining about the one size fits all system… this is wrong and bla bla. So many people have told us… thank you very much. You are preaching to the converted! But how many people have offered the right approach which needs to be taken?  Has anyone considered there is something which is blatantly obvious in good, old Malta. Our whole society seems to depend on the SEC exams. You are either sitting for SEC or not, and if not, being a certificate-minded society we are sending students packing to other institutions to get their certifications elsewhere. So what do teachers do? They follow syllabi… they don’t really follow curricula do they? They look at a syllabus, follow it word by word, and then look out towards the light in our lives… the MATSEC exam. What do parents do? Parents send their kids to private tuition so their kids can pass the MATSEC exam? What do school admins and the education division do? They publish the MATSEC statistics, and show how good their school is doing in terms of students potentially able to further their education? I ask…well with all this rigid MATSEC examination system, how can the curriculum be properly put into practice? Ah well maybe that is the question which will determine our whole education system…

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