Curriculum Culture at Swenam College

Our curriculum team strives to establish an inclusive and dynamic learning environment at Swenam College, fostering an authentic atmosphere where both learners and instructors can broaden their diverse educational and cultural identities through genuine learning experiences. We are dedicated to creating an inclusive academia that recognizes and celebrates the diversity stemming from various cultural backgrounds, values, and perspectives influenced by factors such as race or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, social class, and religion, as well as individuals' creativity and imagination. As Joseph (2011) states, to gain a new perspective and understand our own culture better, we must "step outside our culture-laden views."

Our curriculum culture is founded on Cognitive constructivism

Intricately linked with social constructivism and socio-cultural learning, which integrates knowledge with social, cultural, and individual elements. We conceptualize curriculum as praxis, involving practical deliberation. The framework of this curriculum extends beyond mere interactions among teachers, students, and knowledge. It underscores the vital role of the environment, encompassing social relationships, socio-cultural processes, economic factors, gender relations, language, and beliefs. “According to these theories, individuals construct knowledge in the presence of others, who shape and enhance the environment using tools such as language and conventions such as pre-established concepts and accepted practices for creating and evaluating knowledge (Cobb, 1994; Rogoff, 1990; Vygotsky, 1979).”

Our curriculum culture is founded on Cognitive constructivism

Intricately linked with social constructivism and socio-cultural learning, which integrates knowledge with social, cultural, and individual elements. We conceptualize curriculum as praxis, involving practical deliberation. The framework of this curriculum extends beyond mere interactions among teachers, students, and knowledge. It underscores the vital role of the environment, encompassing social relationships, socio-cultural processes, economic factors, gender relations, language, and beliefs. “According to these theories, individuals construct knowledge in the presence of others, who shape and enhance the environment using tools such as language and conventions such as pre-established concepts and accepted practices for creating and evaluating knowledge (Cobb, 1994; Rogoff, 1990; Vygotsky, 1979).”

The history of constructivism goes beyond its diverse applications in educational contexts

The concept of "construction" is closely linked with the contributions of 20th-century psychologist Jean Piaget. Piaget proposed that learning entails continually restructuring one's understanding by reconciling new information with past experiences. He argued that knowledge isn't merely an internalized representation of the real world but rather a set of conceptual frameworks that make sense within the individual's realm of experience (Von Glaserfeld, 1989). Expanding on Piaget's ideas, Lev Vygotsky highlighted the social dimensions of knowledge acquisition, stressing that learning is most effective through interaction with others. Collaboratively, learners construct a shared framework of meanings with their peers. By engaging in this shared environment, learners adjust their subjective interpretations to align with socially accepted norms. Vygotsky particularly underscores the influence of culture on cognitive development.

Mission

At Swenam College, our purpose is to establish a learning atmosphere that empowers individuals to take control of their educational paths, focusing on enhancing critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, and reflective skills. In line with these theoretical principles, our team is committed to merging pedagogical knowledge with state-of-the-art technologies. Our objective is to offer students practical and meaningful learning opportunities, promoting educational excellence and supporting professional development.

Learners

& Teachers

Instructors identify the complexity of knowledge and take a dual approach, exploring both its essence and the limits of human understanding. Their first task is to understand the concept of knowledge itself and what it means for someone to truly know or fail to know something; the relationship between instructors and students is a collaborative journey that goes beyond traditional boundaries, where the pursuit of knowledge becomes a shared venture characterized by active engagement, critical thinking, and a dedication to unlocking the potential of education.

 

It is considered a professional practice for educators to support students in learning methods that foster their capacity to become self-directed learners. Our teaching methodology aligns with the pedagogical principles articulated by Jack Mezirow. The instructors focused on constructivist approach which involves organized and sustained efforts to:

 

  • Decrease students' dependence on teachers and inspire them to accept greater responsibility for establishing their learning goals, devising their study strategies, and monitoring their progress.
  • Assist learners in identifying their learning needs, encompassing an immediate recognition and comprehension of cultural and psychological assumptions which shape their perspectives. Promote the utilization of inclusive and introspective standards for evaluation, considering diversity in perspectives and experiences.
  • Customize learning materials to align with the learner's specific needs, interests, and present level of understanding.
  • Encourage students to cultivate a mindset towards decision-making by offering pertinent learning opportunities that encourage them to make choices.
  • Encourage the learner's self-perception as a competent and proactive individual by facilitating gradual skill enhancement. Establish a nurturing atmosphere with constructive feedback to motivate them to explore and take calculated risks. Instructors should refrain from making comparative evaluations of their performance and utilize peer support groups when suitable.
  • Concentrate on employing experiential, participatory, and project-based teaching techniques, along with adequate modeling.

Content & Context

In the social constructivist teaching and learning method, the way students construct knowledge and engage with subject matter is equally crucial to the content itself. Students are presented with a range of methods to approach the subject matter. Constructivist teaching methods involve using examples and analogies that are advantageous for students, generating alternative concepts from these, and prompting students to question pre-existing ideas through class discussions. However, teachers are cautious not to overwhelm students with exhaustive details, authoritative explanations, or descriptions that would lead them to merely confirm established knowledge on their own.

In this approach, students encounter content that is moderately structured, enabling them to contextualize it in a manner that intrigues them, thus fostering potent "collateral" or unintended learning. This often results in imbuing personal significance to the initial theme chosen by the teacher.

Unlike objectivism, constructivism posits that learners actively generate and reconfigure knowledge. They continuously assess ideas introduced in formal instruction against their existing knowledge, which is shaped by personal experiences, intellectual, cultural, and social contexts, among other influences. As learners make sense of the world, they engage in knowledge creation. A central aim of the constructivist approach is to cultivate learners who are confident in their ability to construct knowledge themselves, recognizing that knowledge is not an objective, universally fixed entity external to them.

In this approach, students encounter content that is moderately structured, enabling them to contextualize it in a manner that intrigues them, thus fostering potent "collateral" or unintended learning. This often results in imbuing personal significance to the initial theme chosen by the teacher.

Unlike objectivism, constructivism posits that learners actively generate and reconfigure knowledge. They continuously assess ideas introduced in formal instruction against their existing knowledge, which is shaped by personal experiences, intellectual, cultural, and social contexts, among other influences. As learners make sense of the world, they engage in knowledge creation. A central aim of the constructivist approach is to cultivate learners who are confident in their ability to construct knowledge themselves, recognizing that knowledge is not an objective, universally fixed entity external to them.

Constructivist educators maintain that students, when provided with intellectual opportunities, can be motivated to investigate subject matter, develop understandings at varying levels of complexity, and proficiently tackle problems.

The fundamental belief in this curriculum paradigm is that students' pre-existing notions about the world are not necessarily rectified straightforwardly through direct instruction. Instead, these alternative conceptions serve as the foundation for more intellectually engaging approaches to the curriculum.

Curriculum Planning & Evaluation

 Our enduring objective is to foster lifelong learners who engage in continuous reflection on their learning path. Emphasizing autonomy in both learning and assessment, educators observe students' learning processes to offer feedback rather than solely assigning grades. Factors such as students' management of their own learning, collaboration with peers, and utilization of available resources are considered. This approach acknowledges the importance of acquiring specific facts, concepts, and skills that can be objectively taught and assessed. Furthermore, the constructivist philosophy recognizes the validity of objective testing as a means of assessing understanding but acknowledges that relying solely on such testing provides a limited perspective on a learner's knowledge.

Within a constructivist environment, assessment primarily revolves around students' performances or creations stemming from substantial endeavor. These endeavors undergo rigorous evaluation against criteria collaboratively established by students and the teacher. They are showcased or enacted publicly, allowing all students to witness a diverse range of quality and creativity in the projects. Students not only showcase their work but also justify it, linking their presentations to the predetermined criteria for excellence and elucidating how their work aligns with these criteria.

Aligned with these principles, the Bloom’s Taxonomy framework helps instructors design intellectually stimulating learning experiences for students by guiding them through a hierarchical progression of cognitive skills, allowing students to construct and reconstruct their knowledge.

Bolotin Joseph, P. (2010). Cultures of Curriculum. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203837276