What is curriculum?
The readings this week were able to shed some light on the curriculum conflicts that have been happening for over a century. It is interesting to think of how some curriculum ideologies have been apparent throughout history and how some have come and gone for different reasons, many of which include political agendas or needs of society. It is also apparent that many scholars have very similar views on the different curriculum conceptions used throughout history. The table in the article “Curriculum: An Integrative Introduction” by Evelyn J. Sowell on pages 50 and 51 helped a great deal while reading the different articles for this module. It is clear that “fads” often come and go and can confuse new teachers and frustrate veteran teachers when they have to change everything (Schiro, 2013). When reading through the histories of these curriculum ideologies, it is clear that societies’ needs and wants have a big part of why certain ideologies fit during that time. It surprised me that there was a gap in the early 1900’s where Organized Knowledge was not the focus but I am happy to see that problem solving and learning how to think started to come to light during this time. I believe that was an important shift. Organized knowledge is important but should be taught in conjunction with learning to think.
I feel it is important to share my own context of curriculum because my thoughts centered around this experience and my perspective of curriculum throughout the readings. As a program coordinator, leading curriculum is my role. In the article “Conflicting Concepts of Curriculum” by Elliot W. Eisner and Elizabeth Vallance, it is written that “Those in school administration, particularly those who in some ways link school to community, might be better able to help their staff and the community understand the issues at hand if they themselves could distinguish between the conceptual orientations of the different alternatives presented to them” and I whole heartedly agree. Reading through the different curriculum ideologies allowed me to understand why we do what we do. I have been so focused on the effectiveness of our program depending on the results students achieve on assessment that I did not stop to think about why we have developed our curriculum the way we have and if the desired results match our profile of the graduate. Working at an international baccalaureate (IB) accredited school has been a wonderful experience but now I understand a bit more of why that is. The IB framework is not a curriculum in itself in my opinion, but rather a framework of how to build a curriculum. When I dive deeper into the Primary Years Program through the IB, I find pieces of different curriculum conceptions. We use common core and NGSS standards for math, literacy and science, which falls under the organized knowledge ideology. We have a push for taking action to make positive change through our units, which is the social relevance and reconstruction piece. Approaches to learning skills like communication, social, research, thinking and self-management can be considered development of cognitive processes. Inquiry and student agency (voice, choice and agency) are at the center of what we do, which is the self-actualization piece. The more I read through the articles, the more I realize that we have similarities to the curriculums written in the articles Al Mousa (2013) and Brown (2006) as they are also examples of balanced curriculums based on the many curriculum conceptions.
Some of the thoughts these readings provoked for me were around the reasons why different curriculum ideologies have been created, specifically about the idea that education and curriculum is often created based on the culture the students are meant to be part of when they finish their education. Societies needs are often the guide to how curriculum has been created in the past. Some of examples of this includes the fact that the social reform ideology states that curriculum should be created to enable students to be able to change and improve society or even that fact that when society needed an “efficient school”, they move to an organized knowledge based curriculum.
To sum up my thoughts on the readings this week and the definition of curriculum, I think it was said best in chapter one of “Curriculum: Foundations, Principals and Issues” by Allan C. Ornstein and Francis P. Hunkins when they stated that curriculum is a plan for achieving goals. His plan has five definitions, and I believe this one is just the start of my definition and I will continue to add to in throughout this course. The issue this definition causes on its own is that we then have to have everyone involved in the development agree to what those goals are while using the many curriculum ideologies available.
One thing that we have been discussing at our school is how the pandemic has changed the way we educate and what we want to continue doing once we are back in the classroom. For example, one thing that has been really beneficial is not being able to assess using big end of the unit tests and moving more to formatively assessing to provide immediate feedback and inform our instruction. The focus has been on more projects and skill based assessments rather than simply testing memorization of knowledge. What is something you will continue from the shifts you have made over the last while?
Al-Mousa, N. (2013). An examination of cad use in two interior design programs from the perspectives of curriculum and instructors, pp. 21-37 & 138-147 (Master’s Thesis)
Brown, G. T. L. (2006). Conceptions of curriculum: A framework for understanding New Zealand’s Curriculum Framework and teachers’ opinions. Curriculum Matters, 2, 164-181.
Eisner, E., & Vallance, E. (Eds.). (1974). Five conceptions of the curriculum: Their roots and implications for curriculum planning. In E. Eisner & E. Vallance (Eds.), Conflicting conceptions of curriculum (pp. 1-18). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan Publishing.
IBOrganization. “Primary Years Programme (PYP).” International Baccalaureate®, http://www.ibo.org/programmes/primary-years-programme/.
Schiro, M. S. (2013). Introduction to the curriculum ideologies. In M. S. Schiro, Curriculum theory: Conflicting visions and enduring concerns (2nd ed., pp. 1-13). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Sowell, E. J. (2005). Curriculum: An integrative introduction (3rd ed., pp. 37-51). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.