Framing a Curriculum for Life: The Origins

In this first blog post, I want to describe our purpose and paint a picture of it in action. Assessing our curriculum development approach during the ‘proof of concept’ process has been fascinating and rewarding and gives evidence to the powerful potential of collaboration in educational settings. 

Since embarking on a mission to develop a ‘curriculum for life’ it has become clear that, to play our part in the evolution of education, we need to be part of a revolution in curriculum design. Generating curriculum resources that meet the existing and future needs of learner, teacher and community is a ‘wicked’ problem. Our research shows how non-cognitive, life skills learning is difficult to access and implement and how this, in turn, leads to complexity and inadequate provision for mainstream education. Examples of great provision exist the world over but in fragmented form and in pockets of either specialism or relative privilege. 

Adult and organisational education has excellent resources and methods that support personal and social development. Why are these not universally available to young people?  Given the widespread calls for skill and capability development that prepares young people for the future, where is the joined-up thinking to address the challenges and opportunities? It seems to us that the ‘village’ is not raising the child.

Existing Efforts

Part of my own learning in the last three years has been to understand something of systems thinking. When we looked at how curriculum resources are generated and delivered it became clear that, in systems terms, there is an opportunity for significant improvement.

Strategically, the absence of a coordinated development of a curriculum for life leaves the learner, teacher and school leader facing a complex array of choices and challenges that affect how they approach life skill development in their settings. 

Once we realised this, it became clear that to address the challenge, we needed to evolve an effective, replicable and scalable approach that serves and empowers learners and practitioners.

Framing the Fragments: Creating a Curriculum for Life

This year has been spent practicing and modelling our Curriculum for Life design process with an extended international and intergenerational team. We addressed initial themes and topics that young participants highlighted as important when evaluated in our framework: 

Through a process of CONVENE CURATE CREATE we have met amazing contributors and collaborators and, as a result, generated initial modules. The process will now expand during 2023.  

We see systemised collaboration as a central enabler to young people accessing learning resources and experiences that respond to their needs. My aim with this initial blog is to highlight the key elements of our work, in bullet point form, and provide an opportunity for you to visualise the process and outputs. 

Please take a moment to picture:

  • An international ecosystem of passionate educators and learners curating and creating, leveraging from many pre-existing resources 
  • Genuinely empowered youth at the centre of the process
  • Linked communities of educators with common cause to provide the curriculum they want to use and offer
  • A shared objective to democratise access to resources and learning opportunities that complement existing curricula 
  • Content that builds on 1000s of creative hours that have already been invested in resources – minimal reinvention, time efficient
  • An iterative, continuously improving process that responds to emergent themes and needs
  • The means by which to take learning topics to international, marginalised settings 
  • Pedagogically responsive provision – doing the complex thinking required to make resources work for young people
  • Ultimately, an end to end thirteen year ‘spiral’ curriculum, modularised by and for teachers
  • ‘Pedagogy meets andragogy’ – including experiential, setting based learning
  • A system of eight contributing domains that provide opportunities for wider community, organisational and societal contribution and co-creation 
  • The long-term strategy required to build and iterate the best possible curriculum content

If that picture appeals, then our ideas and their relevance have probably resonated based on your own educational experience or that of people close to you. The picture may also reflect what you hope for.

Open Invitation

As I drive past two or three schools near where I live, I delight in visualising the individual children as their future adult selves and I am inspired to ensure we play our part in providing a curriculum that they will value. Working with our young contributors around the world shows how powerful and effective we can be together – the village works and building the village will continue to inspire us and our collaborative partners.  

If you would like to contribute to our curation process, let us know by completing the form at the bottom of this webpage. If you are simply interested in our work, then get in touch with us here. Thank you for reading about what we are doing and for being a contributor if it appeals.

Peter Williams

Peter Williams

Peter is the CEO at Curriculum for Life. Peter has a background in small businesses and business coaching. He has partnered with business schools and consultancies to support the development of people, teams and organisations internationally since 2008. A long-serving trustee in schools and educational charities, currently with the PSHE Association, he was co-founder of The Youth Leadership Trust in 2012 and part of the team that initiated the Curriculum for Life concept. By convening a multi sector team of experts and collaborative partners from around the world he is dedicated to enabling the delivery of a transformative, progressive curriculum that reflects and responds to the needs and expectations of children and young people now and in the future.

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