|11 August, 2019

New curriculum sees integration of critical thinking in Jordanian schools

New math and science curricula for the first and fourth grades will be used as of this upcoming academic year 2019/2020

AMMAN — The new math and science curricula developed by the National Centre for Curriculum Development (NCCD) for the first and fourth grades focus on developing critical thinking skills.

During a press conference held at the centre on Wednesday, NCCD Director Ruba Bataineh said the new experimental curricula will be used as of this upcoming academic year 2019/2020, a month from now, and they will be constantly updated according to feedback given from the field.

The curricula was developed through an international tender won by Harper Collins, the second largest publication house in the world with more than two decades of experience in authoring and developing curricula.

The company presented their samples and the national entities approved of them, tweaking and localising them to fit the culture until the material was ready, Bataineh said.

"We started with math and science because they are international subjects and require our attention to improve our students' critical thinking skills instead of spoon feeding them with knowledge," Bataineh said during the press conference, adding “the goal is to finish the curricula of math and science for all grades by the end of 2022”.

Specialised national teams will work simultaneously on the rest of the subjects, except for English, which will be developed through an international tender as well, the director said, adding that the centre had developed the guidelines for all subjects in all grades.

"Communication and presentation skills used to be limited to language subjects, now students will learn how to communicate their thoughts and express themselves in all subjects, in addition to using their creative side and discussion skills to understand the material," Bataineh said.

She added that with the help of the trained teachers, students will learn how to gain knowledge on their own and asses it in order to develop an understanding of it, unlike rote learning.

Specialised national teams comprise individuals from the Education Ministry, academics in schools and universities, freelancers and others. They will help come up with guidelines and review the authored books, Bataineh said, adding that 250 teachers will be trained in educational methods for the new material on math and science.

"Jordanian students are capable learners, and with the right direction, they can grow and achieve so much," Bataineh said, noting that students will not be evaluated based on exams but rather on their work throughout the semester, and how they progress.

The change the new curricula for all grades will bring is "not going to be visible immediately, but will show once the new material is integrated well into public schools", Bataineh said, reiterating that they will go back to Arabic numbers and replace the Indian numerals the current curricula still use.

Moreover, the new material will take individual differences into consideration and cater to the needs of students of all levels, and the knowledge covered in one subject will complement the knowledge in another.

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