Learning, teaching and the curriculum
In approaching the issues outlined above through an entry point of learning, teaching and the curriculum therefore requires some thought to be given to teacher style.
A curriculum and pedagogy for learners to support them in achieving the goals outlined above requires:
promoting knowledge, skills and understanding to build the resilience of learners;
exploring controversial issues; recognising local needs;
challenging extremism narratives; promoting universal rights;
promoting critical analysis;
and promoting pro-social values.
Focusing on the curriculum requires schools to address the causes of violent extremism. Broadly speaking this involves three main elements – understanding the potential impacts of contact with recruiters, secondly, understanding the potential impacts of access to violent extremism materials and, thirdly, developing the skills to challenge the use of extremism narratives. Researchers have identified common elements that are likely to contribute to learners joining extremist groups. These include:
ideology and politics; provocation and anger; need for protection;
seeking excitement and action;
fascination with violence, weapons and uniforms;
seeking family and father substitutes;
seeking friends and community;
and seeking status and identity.
Therefore in order to meet the needs of learners in facing issues relating to violent extremism the curriculum needs to recognise local needs, challenge and build resilience towards extremism and promote human rights, learning and teaching strategies need to explore controversial issues and external groups need to support learning in and out of school. Schools already do a number of things to contribute to these goals such as helping learners develop knowledge of religion, history, geography, citizenship, being critically aware of the role of different media and knowledge of current affairs. Schools also help learners develop the skills to critically evaluate controversial issues. They provide safe places for learners and they provide opportunities for learners to meet people from backgrounds other than their own.
Any proposed curriculum innovation relating to „Learning Together to be Safe‟ needs to be cognisant of the aims and structure of the Key Stage Three and Four curriculum requirements. The National Curriculum requires that schools help learners become:responsible citizens: confident individuals: and successful learners.
These materials need to work with and alongside existing schools‟ practices and other appropriate programmes such as The PSHE Association by drawing on the relevant concepts, range and content, processes, and curriculum opportunities in, for example citizenship and PSHE. There is a need for as many subjects as is possible in the curriculum to address these issues. There is also a need to take into account the cross-curricular dimensions of the curriculum – media and technology, the global dimension and sustainable development and identity and cultural diversity. These proposals also need to address relevant skills development including helping learners become independent enquirers and effective participators.