The Truth About Curriculum

Before Reading: 

I honestly never questioned the ‘how’ of curricula creation, but putting that into words makes me think that as a preservice educator, I definitely should. My understanding of how school curricula are developed stems from my personal experience in the Saskatchewan school system and the little discussion through some of my education courses thus far. I think curricula are developed by a group of people with some expertise or relation to the field of education whether that being that they had teaching experience or not. They decide what is critical for students to learn at each particular grade level and organize these ideas into outcomes and indicators in hopes that all educators are able to successfully cover the outlined topics in a given school year. When deciding what is important, I believe that society has a heavy influence and thus white eurocentric views continue to guide the decisions. I also know that in Canada, school curricula are provincially mandated thus I think provincial governments have the final say in what is implemented across the province. Once curriculum guidelines have been agreed upon, they become the new norm and are executed across the province. 

After Reading:

After reading Ben Levin’s chapter regarding curriculum policy and politics concerning what should be learned in schools I realized my understanding of curriculum development was fairly minimal and vague. Today, curricula are developed by bringing groups of experts together to draft new or revised versions by examining and evaluating current forms of curricula and suggestions for change that have been made. The two big concerns when designing curriculum are ‘what subjects should be taught ‘ and ‘what content should be included under each subject’ and there are various opinions regarding these questions. Curriculum decisions are shaped largely by “ideology, personal values, issues in the public domain, and individual interests” and because everyone has some relation to schooling, their personal experiences in school have a grand influence on educational policies. Post-secondary schools also have a significant influence due to the entrance requirements they have for students interested in enrolling in their programs. Levin opened my eyes to the power of politics regarding curriculum design and thus the influence that the economy and people in authoritative positions have on deciding what should be taught in schools. Levin also pointed out that once a curriculum has been approved by the provincial government, it is not always implemented successfully in schools because teachers’ practices are often influenced by what they know and value, and what is practical for them to implement.

I have learned that I was correct in thinking that the provincial government has the final authority when developing school curricula. Thus, “an individual in a key position can either shape of hold up decisions” despite the opinions of others which is concerning as one person in power should not have the authority to influence the lives of all students and the future generations of our society. The significant influence of one individual shifts the focus from being on providing sufficient education for all students, to meeting biased goals. Often experts in a particular subject area are consulted when making the decisions about what should be included but this can also be problematic because the result of expert dominated choices will only be implemented successfully by other masters of the subject. The reality is that most teachers, especially those with elementary education degrees, will have limited knowledge in particular subject areas and will not be able to teach the objectives developed by experts. I believe what is most problematic is that despite new curricula being developed, they are not being implemented appropriately in classrooms. For example, treaty education was introduced to Saskatchewan’s curriculum in 2007 and yet students are still not learning the truth about treaties in their classrooms. Designing curricula is a political process which means it is driven by the most vocal interests and marginalizes opinions of those whose matter. Levin’s chapter exposed me to the troubling truths about the process of designing curricula and emphasized the importance of considering who is designing curricula.

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