Blog Posts, Uncategorized

Curriculum Construction

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PRE-READING INQUIRY: 

How do you think that school curricula are developed?

To me, I see the curriculum creating process very politically driven. I think the development of curriculum is a collaborative effort, meaning many people are using their inputs to create an overall outline. With that being said, I question if the variety of people that are creating the curriculum and the best suited people for the job. How many of the people creating the curriculum are people working in education? How much are students’ voices being heard? Do we see biased and oppressive behavior when it comes to curriculum creating?

POST-READING INQUIRY:

How are school curricula developed and implemented?

How are school curricula developed?

Two levels of objectives:

  1. very general or broad goals
  2. specific learning activities and objectives

Two kinds of discussions:

  1. the overall shape of school curricula

2a. debates over specific content in particular subjects

2b. pragmatics:

“In addition to the content of specific subjects, schools are seen as the place where children will be inoculated against all social ills or taught all the virtues from street proofing to AIDS, anti- smoking, drinking, and drug abuse education. Schools are expected to prevent bullying, obesity, and anorexia while also eliminating racism and promoting equity in all its forms. In many cases these topics cut across the formal school curriculum, so who provides what instruction and when can be an important curriculum issue.” (pg. 14)

Who develops the curricula?

When talking about who develops curricula we can see that the decisions are made in the face of many different points of view.

Main stakeholder groups:

  1. The general-public
  2. National or subnational government
  3. Boards of education
  4. Teachers/principals

In all 4 of these groups are an array of personal perspectives and opinions that influence the construction of curricula.

Who else influences the curricula?

  • Students: students are the most impacted by the curricula, yet often have the least say in what happens.
  • Post-secondary institutions: post-secondary schools asking for specific classes in order to get into certain programs
  • Mass media: mass media has become a really influential aspect to society. Mass media and how things are portrayed can increase public awareness and public opinions- thus possibly impacting the facets of education
  • Expert opinion: there seems to be a higher value for the publics opinions and a lesser value for experts opinions

 

What new information/perspectives does this reading provide about the development and implementation of school curriculum?

I found new information/perspectives in the 3 categories of Involvement, Decision Making and Influencers of curriculum development.

  1. Involvement:

This reading has me recognizing the emphasis the general public’s perspectives influence the decision making of curricula.  The government may have the upper hand to implement certain policies and change, but the government also must take in the fact that they need to serve society in the most coherent ways they can.

  1. Decision Makers: Biased Decision Making

“Within government, other departments may put pressure on the education ministry for their favorite causes—such as innovation units promoting the use of technology or culture ministries promoting the arts.” (pg. 16)

The Government holds the power in the implementation of what goes and what doesn’t. Although there are biases with public opinion, there are also biases within the governments opinions. If you have someone in power that is passionate about technology use in schools, they might decide to put more money or efforts towards implementing evolvement in that area. The government is a really important decision maker of curriculum because they get the final say.

“many groups want the curriculum to reflect particular issues and perspectives” (pg. 16)

This quote engages the more societal biases that effect decision making in the curriculum. It is similar to the video watched in lecture where there were adults and citizens on strike about components of sexual health education. These people are a group who want a particular-reflection to be portrayed in the content of the curriculum. Societal perspectives impact the decision making of the government on curriculum.

  1. Influencers: public opinion > expert opinion

Many people influence how the curriculum is designed and implemented, but two key holders I see an emphasis in in this article is the government and the general-public.

“Beliefs Are More Important Than Facts” (pg. 13)

This heading resonated with me because it shows the value put on the general-public. To me, I see educators and professionals having a neglected voice in curriculum and implementations. I see more of a “I’m going to do what is best for the me” rather than a “what is best for our students?” view. Parents can speak up about what concerns they have with their child’s curriculum. The government can voice their perspectives on what educational aspects benefit being a member of society.  The problem with this is though, we are neglecting child’s voices. Our students are the absolutely most effected by what is taught, yet they have the smallest voices. STUDENT VOICES ARE IMPORTANT. Some people might disagree with me, but I think students are some of the most expert people in education because they are the ones being most effected by the content given.

I think if we want to make changes in curriculum, we need to think about our students and ask ourselves these questions:

  • What happens if we remove certain content?
  • How are students effected by the removal of certain content?
  • How will learning change if we change content?
  • What makes content ineffective?
  • What do students want to learn the most?

These questions should make you think in the larger picture. We can’t only think about the possibilities curriculum creates, but we also have to think of the effects and crisis’ it can make too. Just like the public opinion never being able to be equal, our students’ needs can’t always be equal. Avoiding student’s opinions merely to avoid effects only adds to the problem. Students’ needs and benefits should be an important aspect to curriculum development, change and enhancement.

 

Is there anything that surprises you or maybe that concerns you?

Catch-22 in Curriculum and Public Policy:

I find the emphasis on Public Opinion making decisions to be concerning. On the one hand I understand, acknowledge and respect the fact that the government works to favor the majority of all people, as they need to in order to try and keep a stable environment, but on the other hand I am conflicted for the people who are not in the majority and are seeing the negative effects of not being acknowledged.

Although I can respect the government and how some things need to be, I may not always agree with their ways of doing. I feel like curriculum and politics is a total catch-22. There is never a way to please everyone, and someone is always going to be left out or disregarded in the decision implementations. This makes the decision makings of curricula difficult.

With this going through my mind, I find myself thinking about the current situations going on with Ontario and removing aspects of Health Education.

Sexual education has always been a topic of debate and this makes the subject sensitive. Culture, sexuality, comfort, the household, biases and fear factors all make sexual health a sensitive topic. This is because in all of this, we can find peoples perspectives and opinions driving their decision making on ‘appropriate’ and ‘inappropriate’ content. Growing up my sexual health education at home was ‘just don’t do it- avoid it’: abstinence. I relied on health education through my schooling to guide me and teach me the vital information I needed to be healthy and prepared. In some cases, my teachers refused to teach what made them uncomfortable and this distorted my education. It caused me anxiety and fear of the ‘unknown’.

Since high school, I have taken the steps to educate myself with reputable resources to support, protect and maintain my sexual health. I mention my personal experience with sexual health education in and out of schools because it serves a point. YES, some content can be uncomfortable. YES, we may not always have all the answers. YES, we are teaching this content to prepare and educate students on their sexual health and well-being. I think what some people forget or fail to recognize is we teach sexual health education to help our students have a logical, conscious and healthy control over their sexual wellbeing. Sexual health education is more than teaching kids about sexual intimacy and how babies are made. Sexual health education teaches students about healthy and unhealthy relationships, consent, drug and alcohol effects, birth controls, sexuality, etc. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, most students (much like myself) will depend on the education they learn in school to influence their decision making and be conscious of who they are, what their needs are and if they are attaining the best sexual wellbeing they can. Another point to make, just because we are teaching content does NOT mean students need to be applying all of it to their lives right away. As educators we provide education and a basis of understanding to support students in their life and with themselves.

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Mindful language that stood out to me in Curriculum Policy and the Politics of what Should be Learned in School:

  • Controversial (pg. 7)
  • Unequal (pg. 8)
  • Rational activity (pg. 9)
  • Different points of view (pg. 9)
  • Contradictory (pg. 10)
  • Beliefs (pg. 11)
  • Public attitudes (pg. 12)
  • Lobbying to personal beliefs (pg. 18)
  • Teachers may seem curriculum issues quite differently (pg. 18)
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