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Opportunities in the curriculum

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Opportunities in the curriculum
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  Newcastle UniversityWORLD HERITAGE EDUCATION FORUM2005Opportunities in the UK Curriculum 1. World Heritage ConventionTwo main criteria for world heritage - outstanding value, common humanityIn practice difficult to define either of these and plenty of scope for discussion, (good teaching)2. Heritage equationsTwo types of heritage in the Convention - cultural and natural.In reality, as archaeologists, we know that these are false opposites - nature has impact on humans, and humans haveimpact on nature. Both have shaped each other over thousands of years. Each if often seen as a threat to the other.One aim of the Convention is to raise awareness of the threats to heritage and stimulate greater protection for it.3. Not only threatsHowever, world heritage also offers opportunities - especially based around the discussion of issues rised by it.4. PrinciplesThe World Heritage Education Project has identified four main themes for world heritage education - identity,tourism, environment, peace. These can be used to structure teaching and learning.5. Themes and subjectsIn the English school curriculum for example, the themes can be linked with particular subjects. The themes can beused to teach a variety of subjects but each can have a primary focus as outlined here.6. IdentityThis has distinctive issues based around valuing human cultural diversity.7. CitizenshipThere is a natural link with the new subject of citizenship, which explicitly has the following elements as part of it.8. TourismThis theme is obviously about managing heritage for the present and future, including the idea of sustainability -important for culture as well as nature.9. Leisure and TourismThere are vocational qualification in the UK, such as Leisure and Tourism which directly address this aspect of heritage - although heritage itself is only an optional topic of study within these and only at 16+.10. EnvironmentThis theme may seem to be primarily about natural heritage. But, we know nature and culture cannot be separated.All natural environments bear the imprint of human activity and all carry with them remnants of the past. Evennature has a history. Sustainable environments are an essential part of the way of life of many human communities,and cultural diversity is strongly linked with biological diversity.11. GeographyGeography is the obvious subject that teaches about the environment, and provides the best fit between a curriculumsubject and a world heritage theme.12. A culture of peaceGiven the conflicts blighting the lives of many in today’s world, this is perhaps the most important of the themes.13. HistoryHistory deals with past events and our pasts are dominated by warfare and conflict. Conflict in the past is reflectedin conflict in the present between rival interpretations of the past. Even a long dead conflict like the Civil War in  England between 1642 and 1660 can engender strong passions among interpreters of the past today.14. What is missing?In spite of the ability to map world heritage themes to curriculum subjects, world heritage is nowhere mentioned inthe curriculum documents in the United Kingdom. The curriculum itself, especially in England, is too mechanistic -seeking to get across knowledge and skills at the expense of true understanding and feelings. A sense of values and purpose is often missing from our teaching. The World Heritage Convention is ultimately all about giving heritagevalues and purpose for the modern world.15. History at 14+If heritage is about what has been handed down to us from the past then a subject like history is essential if studentsare to make sense of that heritage. However, history as a subject in the UK is only compulsory up to 14. After thatit is optional. Only 32% of students choose to stay on with the subject after 14 (down from 40% in 1996).Reasons include lack of relevance - reflected a wider problem in not seeing the relevance for the past or for heritage.16. A heritage ethicWe need what I call a heritage ethic - an awareness of heritage, which leads to a reflection on its role in shaping our identities. This in turn leads to an appreciation for our cultural diversity, which enables us to respect not only our own culture but that of others. We also then come to appreciate the need to care for our common heritage.17. The challengeIn other words -18. The answer?Can this be taught through a range of separate subjects like -?Probably not.19. The real answer?What we need is a more integrated approach, the teaching about the cultural environment, in a holistic way.20. Cultural environment?In other words -21. This then is what world heritage education offers us - a chance to link past and present, to address meaningfulissues, and show students the importance of our heritage, while at the same time getting across universal values..
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