In this essay, I am asked to reflect my views and opinion on curriculum innovation in schools in the Kingdom of Bahrain, and to give scenarios in motivating my staff to initiate curriculum innovation and development in my school. It is not an easy task to be accomplished, due to the fact of my limited knowledge in curriculum development and the limitation of that outcome that might affect the development of the curriculum. However I will do my best to write a reflective essay.
The challenges in curriculum development
There are varieties of challenges facing curriculum development, but in general they are classified into three types, global challenges (external), internal challenges of the education systems, and challenges specific to the Gulf Region.
With regard to the external challenges, curriculum planners should response to eight critical processes: the process of globalization, accelerated pace of scientific and technological progress, radical transformation in the work field, increasing social inequalities, progress of democracy and human rights, multi-culturalism, the feeling of insecurity, and moral decline.
In addition, the third type of challenges is the Gulf Region challenges which may be summarized as: universal literacy, shortage of highly skilled human resources, reconciling traditional orientation of education with the aspiration for modernity, privatization of schools, diversification of the economy, the need to invest more in education research, and the need to derive optimal benefit from the complementary nature of the Gulf Region economies.
The description of the curriculum used in Bahraini schools
The curriculum used in Bahraini schools emphasizes on the learning of an international language such as English from the first primary. Furthermore, it is already emphasized for better knowledge of geography and history of the world. I remember this emphasis since I was a student 25 years ago. Furthermore, and recently, the curriculum emphasized on IT knowledge since 2002 when the IT was implemented as a subject and then it is implemented as an ICT through the King Hamad of Future Schools. However, the curriculum needs to be given greater emphasis on appreciation of the major international institutions such as UN, Human Rights Associations etc, respecting cultural diversities, and discussing major world problems.
The development and implementation of curriculum in Bahraini Schools
I think that curriculum developers in the Ministry of Education understand the challenges facing students in schools from learning point of view. Therefore, they have developed the curriculum from teaching towards learning, from individual learning towards co-operative learning, form subject knowledge towards intellectual competencies, from separate subjects towards integration of subjects, and integrating of information and communication technology in all areas.
However, the curriculum needs more emphasis on experimental work of the learners, teamwork among learner instead of the individual paper, the development of competencies to learn independently using books articles and papers instead of learning form teacher presentation and the development of skills to solve problems in a systematic method and to work in team.
Nevertheless, the curriculum developers in the Ministry of education have focused on more on learning activities aimed at integration of knowledge and skills of competence-based learning, problem-based learning or project-oriented courses. This can be seen in primary schools where there are lessons designed for students to do projects in teams and to speak about their projects, and also it is seen in secondary schools where there are courses for students to practice their knowledge in work fields.
On the other hand, and from my experience, I have not been asked to help in developing the curriculum. Neither, I experienced some curriculum developers from the Ministry of Education visiting my school to evaluate the curriculum or to ask students about it. Though, there are lots of teachers’ initiatives in committing on the curriculum and sending their comments to the Secondary Directorate. But I am not sure if these comments are transferred to the Curriculum Directorate because teachers do not receive any feedback on their comments.
My personal beliefs and values about teaching and learning
I do understand that there is a reduction in the employment opportunities cased by mainly the World Economic Crisis and by great technological progress. The new jobs require in most cases not only a higher level of knowledge and a better training compared to the past, but also some new skills such as the capacity to adjust to new circumstances, problem-solving skills, creativity, etc. Therefore, teachers should adopt either the constructionism or constructivism learning approaches which focus on students doing what they learn and teaching their partners what they learn. By students teaching (collaborative learning) they will maximize their understanding. Moreover, students should understand the importance of developing the right attitudes and behaviors, a sense of responsibility and communication skills in relation to colleagues.
Leading learning and teaching innovation through my own leadership model
I planned for utilizing my school since the beginning of this academic year to accommodate some practical activities, democracy and human rights. I try to familiar learners with their rights and duties and with what is expected from them in the school. In addition, I planned to provide students with practical experiences in a democratic atmosphere through the pupil parliament, school newspapers, and opening my heart and office for them when they need. Moreover, I functionalize the school parent parliament to involve families in the education for citizenship and democracy. I with the help of the planning community in the school try to prepare students for life in the new information society by mastering technology.
Furthermore, as curriculum development process takes at least 7 years, school principals need to help curriculum developer by supplying students with updated learning strategies, activities, technology, etc. However, I think the curriculum developer do not agree with Rassekh in his view about “curriculum designers should pay special attention to excluding from textbooks the strong nationalistic approach which creates a false sense of superiority and leads to the rejection of other people’s achievements and merit.” On the other hand, curriculum developers emphasize the contradictory idea, though there are around 250,000 individuals given the Bahraini nationality recently.
The curriculum developers should understand that the need is great to include in the school curriculum lessons on peaceful resolution of conflicts. Children have to be taught dialogue, consultation and co-operation early in their lives. I try to continue my school teaching and practical training in this direction. In addition, Ministry of Education trying these days to include students’ attitudes and behavior toward other colleagues and toward the establishment in the evaluation of their cognitive performance.
With developments in psychology and educational sciences, more and more schools have become learner-centred, using active and participative methods. Students need to be encouraged to explore, investigate and learn by themselves. Schools need to promote new technologies like computers, stimulate openness and interaction with the surrounding world, facilitate co-operation and co-operative learning, and create occasions of experimenting democratic life within school.