810 Integrated Planning

MODULE 1: MY VIEWS ON CURRICULUM

Working through these articles challenged many of my views of curriculum. I thought I had a basic understanding of what curriculum was, the different views, and why we have it… but now I’ve been left with much to learn, and much to ponder.  As Aristotle said, “the more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” Indeed this is true!

To begin to organize my thoughts and conceptions of what curriculum is, view the mind map that I started:

https://www.mindomo.com/mindmap/curriculum-fe1c406a435148c4a338be3979504230

What is curriculum? Definitions for this word vary, but include the lessons and academic content taught, or the knowledge and skills students are expected to learn.   Curriculum refers to the means and materials with which students will interact for the purpose of achieving identified educational outcomes.   Within curriculum, one can look at the scope (the breadth of the curriculum), the continuity (the ideas and themes), and the sequence in which something is taught (the recurrence or repetition of content).  Within the Mindomo concept map, you can find the five main conceptions of curriculum. Different authors and theorists have labelled these as different things, but each of them fall within five main categories.  Some of these have become more popular over the years, while others have lost their popularity.  The humanist approach has become more popular, and I believe it will stay popular as it encourages autonomy and personal growth, and allowing the student to discover things for themselves.  Much of the focus of our society in past years has been on fulfilling one’s own destiny and dreams, in comparison with working for a greater societal goal, as was evidenced in the past. Children from a young age are encouraged to think for themselves, but also much of our media portrays an attitude that fits under a humanist.  However, for the good of our society, I’m unsure that this should be the focus of our upcoming curriculum.  Social reconstructionist was more popular in the past than it is today, especially when I think of the first curriculum written for Canada with a focus on the economy and a greater sense of patriotism. Society today seems to have a multitude of problems, so perhaps in the future this type of curriculum will become more of a focus as the government realizes the power of education and how this could change our society.  Skills based training was much more popular in the past when many of the jobs were based on a specific skill. Today with technological changing so fast, teaching a specific skill will likely be pointless, and it will be better to teach our students to deal with the problems they will face, and how to innovate to meet the needs of society.  The technological conception of curriculum is focused on processing, and HOW a person learns, rather than on the specific content that needs to be taught. The academic conception of curriculum is focused on getting our students ready to cope with the ‘western culture’, using the knowledge and skills that have been gained in the past to equip our students. Although this was popular, the shift I see occurring is away from this, and towards encouraging our students to find their own meaning, critical thinking, and problem solving, rather than giving them the specific skills and knowledge.  However, in some subject areas this view of curriculum may be necessary, especially when there are some facts that need to be acquired in order to make wise and reasoned judgements about a topic.   Each of these different conceptions depends on what societies view on what the purpose of education really is.  If the purpose is for the individual student (what their needs and interests are), then the focus will be different than if they view education as filling a social need, or preparing students for the workforce.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I hope to begin a new position as curriculum coordinator for a K-8 Christian School. The school has in the past years defined their mission and vision, but currently has no curricular documents in place. These readings have challenged me on what my role at the school will be.  Using the mission and vision statement will be where I have to move forward: both of which would fall under social reconstructionist and skills.  However, I think this may need to be something that is challenged when I start, because after spending a year at the school, immersing myself in the new community and culture, I think although their vision may state those two things, the reality of how teachers are teaching may fall much more under the technological or academic conception.  This topic is one that I will need to ponder more, but also one that I will need to gain insight into by asking & gathering information from teachers, staff & administration.  Regardless of exactly what is gathered by our brainstorming, I thinking coming together with a more clear idea of what our goal is as a school will be the first point in improving the teaching and having a more cohesive vision.