Reconceptualizing and Repositioning Curriculum in the 21st Century : A Global Paradigm Shift
UNESCO. Oficina Internacional de Educación
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This document calls for a global paradigm shift for curriculum. In the new paradigm, curriculum is reconceptualized and repositioned to best meet current and future challenges and opportunities. Key drivers of change in the 21st century that impel the reconceptualization and repositioning of curriculum are outlined. The Document sets off with an acknowledgement of existing conceptualizations of curriculum, but argues that they understate its significance, role, and potential impact in the 21st century. It notes that current conceptualizations position curriculum almost exclusively within the education sector; tightly associate it with general education (K-12), with children of K-12 age, and with schools. This further limits the significance, role, and impact of curriculum. Curriculum is much more than that. This Document therefore offers a new definition of curriculum that rids it of its current limitations and better aligns it with the new paradigm. Curriculum is herein defined as a dynamic and transformative articulation of collective expectations of the purpose, quality, and relevance of education and learning to holistic, inclusive, just, peaceful, and sustainable development, and to the well-being and fulfillment of current and future generations. The Document underscores that attaining and sustaining current and future relevance demands curricula to set out competences that learners (both young and old) require to thrive, to be fulfilled, and to drive individual, national, and global development within fast changing and mostly disruptive 21st century development contexts. It notes that the fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) is an unstoppable accelerant to the complexity and velocity of change in the 21st century. This places more demands on curricula to sustain the relevance of competences within contexts of rapid change. This document acknowledges that the articulation of curriculum is both a political and technical process that engages a broad base of stakeholders, and engenders stakeholder support and ownership. Credible curricula processes are necessarily inclusive and consultative. Involved stakeholders reach far beyond the boundaries of the education sector and of technical experts in education. They include professional, local, national, and global communities at large. This is because curricula determine the fate of individuals, communities, countries, and the world, by determining what, why, when, and how people learn.