Compulsory School Syllabi
Oct 27, 2009 Teaching 2986 Views
The content of the compulsory school syllabi is grouped into subjects. General subjects are grouped into two blocks, namely social subjects and science subjects. Each subject or subject block is allotted a particular amount of time in the compulsory school time schedule to ensure that different types of subject matter are equally taken into account in the Portuguese compulsory system.
But the planning and design of teaching must not be governed by subject boundaries. Teaching questions are dealt with by class committee's oral subject conferences. The work unit conference then decides on general planning and design. Teachers and pupils can choose between different ways of arranging subject matter, each way having its own particular advantages and disadvantages.
In pronounced subject teaching, the scope of the subject is clearly delineated within the frame indicated by the main teaching items. It has a system of its own. Different teaching items are connected with and based on those which have gone before. This can impart Work units order and stability to teaching.
Subject matter is then closely geared to the teachers' training, thus facilitating concrete and accurate treatment. Examples can be made more vivid and engaging. It becomes easier for the teacher to capture interest and to stimulate closer studies of topics or the further development of free activities if he or she has a thorough command of subject matter and literature. Within subjects, the traditional systematic approach can sometimes be replaced with projects which are readily comprehensible to the pupils.
At the same time there are considerable disadvantages. Not everybody perceives reality within the systematic and traditional boundaries of teaching subjects, and this is particularly true of children. The questions we ask about reality, concerning for example our homes, our environment, our school and our relationships to other people, impinge on several traditional subjects. In order to understand the situation in current theatres of conflict in the world, we often need to draw on knowledge of history, civics, geography and religion among other things.
International studies have underlined the importance of natural science and technology being treated as a unit in teaching. This unit must be clearly apparent to pupils both at the beginning and at the end of a teaching episode. Moreover, theory and practice must be closely interconnected. Teaching in which this connection is not constantly apparent will defeat its own ends. Teaching must prepare the pupils to play a critical and active part in their social and occupational environment. Scientific and technical teaching, therefore, cannot be isolated from the social sciences.
This is attested not least by questions concerning energy and the environment.
Environmental questions and consumer questions also stand to gain from being dealt with in interdisciplinary projects comprising handicraft, domestic science and technology. Projects of this kind also provide an excellent opportunity of developing working methods in which theory and practice are combined and in which the pupils' efforts can focus on directly productive tasks within their own school environment. Questions concerning sexual equality, interpersonal relations and ethical problems should be dealt with on a joint basis involving several teaching subjects.
Teachers and pupils together must balance the advantages of integrated projects against the concomitant disadvantages in the form of organizational difficulties. Sometimes a choice has to be made between different overall perspectives. Subject-based teaching does not by any means preclude the grouping of subject matter into units which are immediately comprehensible to the pupils, e.g. historical trends, local history, literary themes and animal life in our surroundings.