The 'What', the 'Why' and the 'How'
Children today are growing in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) climate. In spite of the proliferation of information, and bite-sized news on social media, parents (and teachers, if we might add) are struggling to raise children of the next generation. Challenges that never existed just a decade ago now seep into our everyday lives, and we struggle to raise children in this climate.
A key question we must answer is: what then is the chief end of education in today’s world? And next most important question: how do we get our children there, wherever “there” may be?
Is it enough to prepare our children adequately for primary school? Is the goal of setting our children up for a lifetime of academic and employment success doing them justice?
At Presbyterian Preschool Services, we believe that the above goals, as pragmatic as they are, is far too short-sighted for our children’s own good. We aim to break the traditional, meritocratic education goals with the Truth, Beauty and Goodness curriculum framework.
What is it? In short, the TBG Curriculum Framework is our response to a world where truth is often distorted, beauty corrupted and goodness disregarded.
Why does “Truth, Beauty and Goodness” matter?
1. Truth: We desire to teach our children what truth is, and set them up on a quest for truth.
Today’s world has no lack of information. Consequently, it seems like this current generation has a higher chance of finding and knowing what truth is. However, much of the information presented to us today is mixed with falsehoods. The more pertinent ability would be to discern what is true, and what is not. In short, we hope to equip the children with abilities to examine knowledge they are presented with.
Further, we recognise the insufficiency of merely teaching children knowledge. We need to whet the children’s appetite to go on their own quests for knowledge, and invoke a curiosity that is restless and relentless in pursuing their interests and to chase down concepts that elude others.
2. Beauty: We desire to help the children appreciate beauty in the created world around them.
Humans are naturally drawn towards beautiful things. However, what is considered “beautiful”? Is adhering to the conventional standard of beauty fair? Most of us often fail to notice the beauty in people, things and even nature, when they do not meet the conventional standards of beauty.
We hope to transform what children consider beautiful – how there is beauty even in the seemingly insignificant.
We hope that the children will grow to see beauty in the mundane, in one another and in the created world around them. We hope the children will learn to make their own judgment call on what is beautiful to them, and defend it.
3. Goodness: We desire the children to pursue goodness both on the inside and outside.
Involving children in Community Involvement Projects is in vogue now, even for preschool-aged children. Children, with the help of their parents and teachers, are no longer strangers to collecting donations for the needy, or visiting the elderly. At least once a year, the children are plunged into projects that aim to help them see how fortunate they are, how unfortunate others may be, and how they can be blessing or help.
However, the TBG curriculum in PPS aims to go deeper than that – children cannot just do good outwardly, there needs to be an inward transformation that shifts their perspective to help others from a position of power.
Children need to realise that there is value in seeking the good of others, their community and their nation. We hope to inspire children to seek goodness from the bottom of their hearts, and let the inward transformation influence their actions.
So, how do we carry out the TBG curriculum?
Remember the question earlier – what is the chief end of education?
At PPS, our goals are lofty – to be worthy partners that teach and love the children who come through our doors as our own.
What this means is that we are not content to just teach the children what will get them to preschool to primary school. We aspire to do more to prepare our children for a future that is fraught with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.
The modules, curriculum components and programmes that we have selected that fills the children’s timetables work towards that goal of instilling a strong foundation in truth, beauty and goodness for our children. For the rest of this series, we will cover how each of the modules relate to and feed into our TBG goal.