Education is associated with significant objectives, which could only be achieved whenever the curriculum is designed to meet the defined needs. Changes in the internal and external environment in education affect the extent to which these objectives are effectively embedded in the curriculum. In such a case, educational objectives exert curriculum pressure. This paper focuses on human flourishing/happiness as an educational objective and independent learning/constructing personal meaning as the curriculum pressure.
Cavanagh (2008, p. 23) ascertains that philosophical foundations have acknowledged the role of human flourishing and happiness with the aim of enhancing the happiness of learners by fostering the establishment of a multicultural environment. Human flourishing and happiness in education allow learners to understand and construct personal meaning. This role justifies why it is important to evaluate the curriculum's weaknesses and strengths in line with the scope of this educational objective. Human flourishing is also important because it strengthens and informs the perspectives regarding the meaning and purpose of life. Kristjansson (2016, p. 17) echoed the sentiments of Aristotle that each person is characterized by a purpose in life and happiness emanates from achieving that purpose. Moreover, this educational objective promotes and supports the establishment of healthy relationships. Parents or guardians are recognized as the first teachers who should support human flourishing (Fain, Barantovich, & Martin, 2004, p. 71; Cohen, 2006, p. 24). Children who are raised to embrace relationship because of the affection they received from their parents or guardian will support relationships and the converse is true (Brighouse, 2006, n.p). Therefore, human flourishing ensures that a child or learner develops to be a positive social being and learn from others while supporting caring deficiencies of their peers.
On the other hand, while human flourishing is considered an essential part of education and learning, several weaknesses define this objective. The approach to enhancing human flourishing involves the tendency to imposing views and perspectives on learners and children regarding how they should live their life (Oers, 2012, p. 13). VanderWeele (2017, p. 57) argues that parent, guardians, and educators should consider this chance as the opportunity to establish sustainable prospects of human flourishing. Such a move will ensure that there is a mutual consensus amongst the institutions, community and parent or guardians to reduce the effect of conflicting interests that impede the understanding of human flourishing.
An important dimension characterizing human flourishing is the pressure it exerts of the curriculum. A shift from the traditional to the modern approach to teaching and learning creates significant pressure in education, emanating from the need to cope up with external and internal demands. The complexity of embedding the extrinsic demands into the current curriculum is also exerting pressure on educators. While education plays a critical role in supporting human flourishing or happiness, there are significant externalities that affect the extent to which this objective is met (Ruyter, 2007, p. 25). Constructing personal meaning in the modern world is complex for most learners because they are subjected to diverse opinion and perspective regarding human happiness. Increased access to information through social media has made flourishing to be a controversial concept. Research posits that the current curriculum is majorly inclined towards professional development, financial success, and the role of learners in supporting the economy as opposed to building meaningful relationships (Noddings, 2003, p. 4). Further, changes in family structure, majorly originating from the high rate of divorce and family members living far away from one another, affect the process of building meaning relationships.
Schools have been at the center of career development of students, in the sense that teachers influence their values, attitudes and the choices of their career they make. Most schools work collaboratively with parents, community members as well as employers in preparing students for multiple roles they will have throughout their lives (Noddings, 2003, p. 197). The bottom line of schooling regardless of the purpose of schooling one may embrace-ranging from Plato's lofty view of creating a more just and peaceful society to preparing students for work; one has to agree that all these views converge on the notion that everyone wants students to be engaged and be productive after school. Having mentioned that, the current curricula create room for the educators to assist students with the decision-making and other necessary skills that help the students to select from the array of available options. The current curricula provide for the comprehension of the theories of career development and the strategies that students must be conversant with. These theories of career development are under broad headings of social learning, developmental approaches, trait and factor, and the likes.
Curriculums provide the platform for the students to be equipped with career development theories in phases. Curriculum puts students from kindergarten to Grade 6 through an awareness phase to help them become more aware of the values of a society, which is work-oriented. The educational experience through the orientation phase in Grades 7 and 8 familiarizes the students with the economic system. Also, the exploration phase in Grade 7 to 10 enables the students to obtain initial work experience, as well as integrate the values of work into their personal value systems (Noddings, 2003, p. 199). There are further two phases in the curriculum which makes it more inclined into financial success as opposed to building meaningful relationships in the society. The preparation and the adult and continuing education phases narrow the choice of careers while preparing students into the labor market, and preparing them for new careers respectively. These phases are a clear indication of how the curriculum is skewed on the economic side of society as opposed to making students orchestrate better social relationships as well.
Evidence from scholarly research indicates how learners flourish whenever their environment is supporting healthy relationships, fosters a caring perspective, and recognizes happiness as part of human existence (Cavanagh, 2005, p. 20). Teachers are seeking to establish a relationship with the student where the latter is considered as an individual, which allows the educators to help them understand the modern world while at the same time meeting their learning needs. For example, when educators encourage learners to care about others as well as help them to understand how to respond to care, then these students will be in a position to build healthy and sustainable relationships (Cavanagh, 2005, p. 22).
While it is easy to establish a relationship, developing and maintaining a sense of belonging is equally important. This explains why teachers have shown considerable effort in trying to encourage students to learn from the friendship created. Each relationship is defined by routines, customs, and practices. Sustaining a relationship requires an understanding of these elements as portrayed in the association. In conclusion, it is apparent that human flourishing/happiness is not distinctively defined in the curriculum, which creates significant pressure; however, educators have supported this aspect of learning by establishing a relationship with the learners.
Brighouse, H. (2006) On education. Retrieved from http://lib.myilibrary.com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/Open.aspx?id=41417
Cavanagh, T. (2008). Schooling for happiness: Rethinking the aims of education. Kairaranga 9(1): 20-23. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ908171.pdf
Cohen, J. E. (2006). Goals of universal basic and secondary education. Prospects 36 (3), pp. 1-23. Retrieved from http://lab.rockefeller.edu/cohenje/PDFs/331CohenGoalsOfEducationProspectsUNESCO200609.pdf
Fain, S. M., Barantovich, M., & Martin, R. (2004). The aims of education in an age of stasis and change. UNESCO-EOLSS. Retrieved from: http://www.eolss.net/EolssSampleChapters/C04/E6-61-01-01/E6-61-01-01-TXT-02.aspx#The_Aims_of_Education_In_An_Age_of_Stasis_and_Change
Kristjansson, K. (2016). Flourishing as the aim of education: Towards an extended, 'enchanted' Aristotelian account. Oxford Review of Education, 42(6): 707-720. https://doi.org/10.1080/03054985.2016.1226791
Noddings, N. (2003). Happiness and Education. Cambridge University Press: United Kingdom. Retrieved from: http://assets.cambridge.org/97805218/07630/sample/9780521807630ws.pdf
Oers, B. (2012). Developmental Education for young children: Concept, practice, and implementation. Dordrecht: Springer.
VanderWeele, T. (2017). On the promotion of human flourishing. Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences, 114(31): 8148-8156
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