A spiral curriculum is an approach to education that introduces key concepts to students at a young age and covers these concepts repeatedly, with increasing degrees of complexity. Designing such a curriculum begins with determining what people should know and be able to do, and outlines where they should begin and how they should progress to reach these goals. It has several advantages [Richardson 2012, Harden 1999]. For instance, specifying these developmental milestones helps teachers and learners identify when milestones have been reached and builds a foundation for later stages of learning. Additionally, it helps teachers avoid the trap of trying to teach everything about a topic or discipline on the first cycle, thereby avoiding overloading learners with too much information.
Our aim is for people to be able to assess claims about the effects of “treatments” (anything we can choose to do that matters to our health) and to make both personal choices (as patients and health professionals) and societal choices (as citizens and policymakers) that are well informed. We began by identifying which concepts are key to achieving this aim. Together with primary school teachers and children, we then determined which concepts can be learned by 10 to 12-year-old children.
The primary school resources that we have developed teach 12 of 24 Key Concepts that primary school children are capable of understanding and applying. Additional primary school resources will reinforce understanding and the ability to apply those concepts and teach the other 12 concepts. Learning resources for older children (15 to 16 year olds) will reinforce learning of the 24 concepts that are relevant for primary school children and introduce additional concepts that they need to make informed personal choices about caring for their health and to participate as scientifically literate citizens in informed debate about policies that affect out health.