Life in the 21st Century is considerably different to that in any previous century. These differences are obvious in the way we live and the technology we use.
Scientific research has shown that the teenage brain is structured differently due to the prolific use of technology. The teenage brain has been rewired for a digital age. Teenagers learn in different ways to most adults. In 2007 (almost 10 years ago), the Ministry of Education released the New Zealand Curriculum to provide guidance for schools to deliver learning opportunities for our 21st Century learners. Unfortunately, most secondary schools in New Zealand are still hamstrung by an approach to education that was developed in the industrial age that is not fit for purpose for modern 21st Century learning. Staff of Te Puke High School carried out extensive review research associated with effective learning for 21st Century learners. This review focused on our rapidly changing world and how to best prepare students for success when they leave our school so that they are adaptable, innovative, creative thinkers who can make the most of the challenges and opportunities in their ever-changing world. From this review of research, the junior curriculum at Te Puke High School was redeveloped with the intention to improve junior student engagement in more meaningful and relevant learning that meets their needs based on the following principles:
- Personalised Learning
Each person brings a different prior knowledge to the learning experience and learns new knowledge and skills in different ways. The way we learn is as unique as our fingerprint.
- Socially Constructed Learning
When students work together through collaboration, peer-tutoring and reciprocal teaching this results in a deeper understanding of the material being covered.
- Differentiated Learning
Each student comes into a learning activity with a different prior knowledge. This means they each require different levels of content, context, challenge and pace.
- Student Initiated Learning
When a student initiates a learning experience or exploration, they learn more.
- Connected Learning
When a student connects their learning to the real world in an authentic manner.
The structure of the junior curriculum is based on a combination of three courses; Themes, Spins and Foci.
All Year 9 and 10 students study six integrated theme studies during the year, which incorporate the core subjects English, Mathematics, Science, Social Science and Physical Education/Health.
Special Interest subjects (SPINS) cover the other three curriculum areas of Technology, The Arts and Languages. Students select courses across all three Learning Areas. This helps to maintain a balanced curriculum for all junior students.
Students select Foci options which cover extension, interest and support options.