Sacred Heart College subscribes to a curriculum that supports the socio-political underpinnings of the National Curriculum (NCS). In so doing, we value the importance of the democratic values-based foundation of the NCS in the South African democratic political dispensation. Bruner (1999 in Culture, Mind & Education) contends: “how a culture or society manages its system of education is a major embodiment of a culture’s way of life, not just a preparation for it”.
Nature of Knowledge
• The subjects in the NCS are arranged into Learning Fields, which serves as a home for cognate subjects, which integrate knowledge, skills and values. The boundaries between subjects are blurred as subjects are viewed as dynamic and responsive to new knowledge.
• Aside from the content and skills taught in each subject, our curriculum is driven by Critical and Developmental Outcomes, which focus on values such as critical and creative thinking, collaboration, responsibility, knowledge organisation, communication, environmental awareness and an holistic approach to problem solving.
• Our pedagogical practices are geared towards the advancement of the ‘self’. That is, cognisance is taken of the fact that individuals need to advance their own potential through education. There is a large degree of autonomy on the part of our teachers and learners. This is achieved by a high degree of teacher innovativeness and expertise.
The Manifesto on Values, Education and Democracy (Department of Education, 2001) identifies sixteen strategies for familiarising learners with the values of the Constitution. These strategies were devised to give expression to the values of the Constitution in education. At the same time, the strategies are meant to enable schools to help in the process of realising the aims of the Constitution. Our Life Orientation, Religion and Life Skills Programmes are instrumental in enabling the achievement of these.
Examples of the implementation of some of the 16 strategies
• Nurturing a culture of communication and participation in school. Communication and participation are the two bastions of the democratic process. The classroom at Sacred Heart College is the space in which learners can express themselves without feeling threatened. This allows for freedom of speech and expression.
• Infusing the classroom with a culture of human rights. The emphasis of human rights in the classroom is aimed at ensuring that the curriculum will address issues of racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination.
• The introduction of religious education into schools. Exposing learners to different religions seeks to endorse the values of diversity, tolerance, respect and compassion. Our multi-faith approach to religion teaching makes this an integral part of the curriculum.
16 Strategies continued…
• Nurturing the new patriotism, or affirming our common citizenship. Schools are obliged to promote a shared sense of pride in commonly held values in an effort to create a national identity. Our Grade 10’s engage in Citizenship Project as part of the Life Orientation programme.
• Role modelling: Promoting commitment as well as competence among educators. Educators are expected to model the behaviour that they expect from learners. At the same time, educators must ensure that they are appropriately qualified to teach. In this time of a severe scarcity of qualified teachers, Sacred Heart College has an academic staff who are highly qualified, experienced and competent.
• What is central to our transformative curriculum is not only what our curriculum offers but how it is offered.
• For instance, the Social Sciences (History in the Senior High) develops in learners a commitment to addressing social injustice, abuse of human rights and a deteriorating environment. Geography, another of the Social Science subjects, ensures that learners are prepared to become informed, critical and responsible citizens who can make sound judgements and take appropriate action that will contribute to equitable and sustainable development of human society and the physical environment.