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New curriculum hones intellect.

And it came to pass, that after three days they found him (Jesus Christ, then 12 years old) in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. -Luke 2:46 King James Version

Last week, Nominated MP Wilson Sossion raised an important question on the proposed curriculum reform. He said the competence-based curriculum, whose implementation begins in standard one to three from January, is ideally meant for tertiary levels of education, not basic levels.

This perspective is grossly mistaken. Education is about developing the mind, heart, soul and manual or physical skills of learners. Education targets three important domains that define all human beings: Cognitive, affective and psychomotor skills.

Benjamin Samuel Bloom further broke down the cognitive domain into six or so levels of increasing sophistication of the thinking required of a student. Starting from the simplest to the most complex, the thinking skills that define the mental field of a learner are: Knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

Thinking skills are useful because they allow us-students, adults, and all professionals and technicians-to process ideas and information to accomplish certain goals. If information is too large or cumbersome, we summarise; if we need to determine the effects of different variables, we control them in an experiment.

An excellent education means nothing but adoption of a teaching instruction that develops higher order thinking, that is thinking that goes beyond restating facts.

It requires students to do something with the facts - understand them; infer from them; connect them to other facts and concepts; categorise them; manipulate them; put them together in new or novel ways; and apply them as we seek new solutions to new problems.

These are skills that make the difference between poor education and a superior education. They enable a student to continue learning and growing throughout life. It is these skills that eventually render the student independent of the teacher-a basic goal of any education worth its salt-beyond mere acquisition of knowledge.

The Basic Curriculum Framework outlines the competencies it wants developed in learners as communication and collaboration, self-efficacy, critical and problem-solving, creativity and imagination, citizenship, digital literacy and learning to learn.

We predictably need a new pedagogue, different approaches to teaching and learning to be able to assimilate and break down information for students. At the same time, developing in them the ability to apply information and knowledge to constantly changing environment and problems.

Kenya has no choice but to embrace a curriculum with depth and breadth and teaching styles that will help students not only to master the content knowledge-comprehension-but also to manipulate the information or knowledge to solve problems or cope with and manage change individually and at career levels.

Employers, educators and public officials require students with reasoning skills needed to manage the complexity of contemporary life. The competence skills the government wants nurtured at basic education levels are domain-general and not domain-specific skills.

Ability to assimilate new knowledge or ideas, or accommodate knowledge or ideas and manipulate them at will or force of circumstances is what the basic education curriculum anywhere is all about.

The competencies in question are topnotch communication, problem-solving, problem-posing, developing sound arguments and simply, making good decisions. The skills are applicable across the board.

It is a huge mistake to delay the process of nurturing the competences until learners join college as it will be too late. Besides, you will have denied those who never join tertiary institutions the right to have their minds nurtured to think.

The kind of education Jesus Christ had under the Jewish rabbis was clearly competence-based. Educators can glean from the interaction between the Jewish Rabbis and the boy Jesus that the instruction was aimed at developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills in the child.

A study of the life of Jesus Christ as a Rabbi is a study in teaching instruction that forced people to think, and think deeply.
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Publication:The Star (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Dec 18, 2017
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