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Processes and Issues in Concept-Based Curriculum for the Humanities

Sheau Yang Yak-Foo and Kar Boon Koh

Introduction

Although humanities programmes offered by schools in Singapore typically include subjects like geography, history, music and art, this chapter will focus only on how a concept-based curriculum unit in geography can be carried out and what the essential elements of such a unit are. The chapter will also illustrate how the design of such a unit ensures ample opportunities for high ability learners to strengthen their intellectual capacities. The implications of implementing such a unit will also be highlighted, and these include the likely challenges that will be encountered and the suggestions that can help manage them.

The Context

To nurture and develop high ability learners (HALs) in Singapore, the Ministry of Education implemented the Gifted Education Programme (GEP) in 1984. This was a centrally run programme that catered to learners from Primary Four to Secondary Four. In 2004, this programme was decentralised at the secondary school level and the Integrated Programme (IP) was introduced. The IP is one that allows university- bound learners to skip the General Cambridge Examination at the “Ordinary” Level (GCE “O” Level) to take the General Cambridge Examination at the “Advanced” Level (GCE “A” Level) at the end of the 6-year programme.

S. Y. Yak-Foo (*)

Raffles Institution, Singapore, Singapore e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

K.B. Koh

National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

L.S. Tan et al. (eds.), Curriculum for High Ability Learners, Education Innovation Series, DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-2697-3_11

Raffles Institution (RI) became one of the few secondary schools which had the autonomy to develop its own school-based gifted education programme to meet the needs of its high ability learners (Sum, 2008). RI now provides a 6-year seamless IP, known as the Raffles Programme (RP), which builds on the principles of the Integrated Curriculum Model by VanTassel-Baska (1986), Understanding by Design by Wiggins and McTighe (2005), as well as the concept-based instructional unit design by Erickson (2007). These frameworks were chosen because of their emphasis on the use of concepts. As part of the curriculum framework for this programme, macroconcepts such as systems, change, model and scale are used as organisers to enable the bridging of various disciplines.

This chapter will highlight the frameworks used in the design of a concept-based curriculum for geography under the RP, the elements used in a concept-based unit of instruction, the importance of such a curriculum, as well as the concerns and challenges of using such a curriculum.

 
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