A knowledge rich curriculum – should we be concerned?

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Tom Sherrington’s insightful article in the Autumn (2018) issue of Impact provides an ideal introduction to the key features of a knowledge-rich curriculum. He is clear from the outset that he has become increasingly convinced of its value. However, his exposition raises aspects that may concern many education professionals.

Early in the article Sherrington asserts that a knowledge-rich curriculum accepts ‘there are no real generic skills. Perhaps a secondary science teacher can state that without question, many wouldn’t feel so accepting.

As one might expect the word knowledge is used repeatedly in the article, again without interrogating its meaning. Knowledge develops over time and the self-evident truths of one era have a habit of becoming foolish and discarded beliefs in the next. Explaining of length, the value of rich and deep understanding that forms ‘the optimum knowledge sequence for building secure schemes’ may be seriously inconvenienced if children are taught that it ever has changed.

Finally, this interesting and stimulating article fails to question how relevant and reliable knowledge is defined. It is as if ‘post-truth’, ‘fake news’ and populist myths had never existed; as if all young people require is the clever application of cognitive science to the teaching of received wisdom will create a curriculum for the twenty-first century.

Concerned? Perhaps we all should be.

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