Curriculum policy and the politics

Before you do the reading ask yourself the following question: how do you think that school curricula are developed? This is an entry point to this topic and whatever you write will be fine.

How do I think or maybe hope curricula are developed is interesting to reflect upon.  I would hope that there is research into best practices, child development, how students learn best, and how to ensure they students learn skills that will carry them out into the world beyond high school.  I would hope that curriculum is developed with input from experts and people who have learned along the way what makes up great curricula. Curriculum have been developed many times, by many countries, with many philosophies and I would hope there are lessons to be learned by what is developed previously.  

I also think that we would not be boxed in by a design that was created for schools that were built in the 1900s and we can think about learning differently.

That being said in how I hope curriculum is developed, I also think that the government has influence on what the final look or outcomes would be.  The government is in charge of curriculum so I would also think there is decision making at that level as well.

After doing the reading, please write your blog entry. Reflect upon:

How are school curricula developed and implemented? What new information/perspectives does this reading provide about the development and implementation of school curriculum? Is there anything that surprises you or maybe that concerns you? IMPORTANT – Please write your blog before our lecture as YOUR OPINION will be an integral part of the lecture.

Well, the first part of the chapter does indicate that curriculum is political.  Governments change with the will of the people and they are not likely to create a curriculum that would cause great controversy.This was a surprise to me as I would have anticipated that curriculum was a non political document based on best practice and research.   It was also interesting to read that he individuals who happen to occupy critical positions influence the decisions that are made as some have more influence which leads me to think that decisions are subjective and not objective with the decisions that are made. I agree with the article when it mentions that it is reality that since everyone has attended school then they think they have an educated opinion about what should be taught in school.  

Curriculum is “organized around at least two levels of objectives—very general or broad goals and then much more specific learning activities and objectives”. This is something that I am familiar with from my classroom experiences.  There are learning outcomes and students are assessed on learning the outcomes. To revise curricula, governments generally bring in large groups of teachers and education stakeholders (such as post-secondary educators) to revise or revamp the curricula.  When curriculum is reviewed the people involved would examine the existing curriculum to determine where gaps are and what would need to be revised to strengthen the curriculum. Sometimes there is a version that is tested first in the classroom and teachers will provide feedback for revisions to occur. Sometimes there are sessions to inform parents and community people about the revisions to curriculum in order to have additional feedback.  There may be lobby groups who want various items to be included in the curriculum as well. Research also plays a role in curriculum renewal and revisions.

The politics of curriculum discussions have two main ideas – the first concerns the overall shape of school curricula: what subjects will be included (or excluded) and the other is the content of particular subjects. The course controversy would include what would the high school subjects look like and in Saskatchewan high school science and math was revamped. This may also include what needs to be included in Fine Arts – is is music, art, dance and drama and does each grade include all four areas? There is lots to consider when revamping curriculum.

In the United States curriculum is controlled mainly at the district or even school level, creating some substantial disjointedness. In Saskatchewan, curriculum is provincial and controlled by the government. Schools have influence in high schools about what optional courses to teach and in elementary schools there can be some local decisions about a course such as Core French.  Schools and divisions can also influence and decide on what professional development is needed.

The conclusion said it well “Although curriculum is a fundamental part of the framework of schooling, curriculum decisions and choices are shaped in large measure by other considerations—ideology, personal values, issues in the public domain, and interests.”  Again, this is continues to be a surprise to me. It should be more objective and not based on individuals who have various opinions not based on research.


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