This week in ECS 210, we were asked to think about curriculum and how it is developed. We were asked to give our initial thoughts about how curriculum is developed. Then, we were asked to do a short reading and reflect upon that.
When I think of how school curriculum is developed, I think of a small group of five to seven people sitting around writing the curriculum. Most of the people that I imagine in this scenario are white males. I imagine most of the people sitting at the table are retired teachers that give their recommendations of what they think is important for students to learn, when they will learn the information (grade level), and how students will be assessed at the end.
Curriculum in this reading “is defined as an official statement of what students are expected to know and be able to do”. Most curriculum decision processes depend on the government systems in power. Most processes of creating curriculum involve bringing together groups of experts and sector representatives to draft elements of the new or revised curriculum. This process is directed by government officials. Teachers in the subject area of the curriculum as well as post-secondary experts are the majority of the people that create the curriculum.
The process of reviewing and renewal of curriculum has four steps to it. First, the group will examine the existing curriculum, then they will gather data about the strengths and weaknesses of the current curriculum. The next step is that they will think of multiple ideas for changes to the curriculum. Finally, the group will give recommendations for the new curriculum. Once this process is complete, the curriculum is written up and then released to all of the schools, or it is released on a trial basis and then revised as a final version.
After reading through this article, I am shocked by the process of how curriculum is created. In the article, it discussed a lot of the politics that went into creating educational policies. I knew to a certain extent the politics that went into creating educational policies, but I did not think about what influences the government’s decisions about educational policies. Things such as voter interests, accommodating varying public interests, not having enough time to sufficiently think about an issue in depth, and that beliefs drive people’s votes more than facts.
Governments have a lot of people to please when they create curriculum, and it is unrealistic for governments to believe that they will please everyone. Governments know that they cannot please everyone, so they attempt to please the mass majority of people with policies and their decisions. Since education is public and people’s taxes go towards paying for the education that students receive, education is a public and political act. Every person thinks that they know what would be best for schools because almost everyone has experienced formal education to a certain degree.
Since most curriculum is created by experts, as I stated above, it can be difficult for teachers to implement and teach the curriculum in the manner that the experts want. Most teachers are not experts in the subject that they teach, since not every high school teacher teaches the subject that they studied in university. As a future teacher, I have some concerns when it comes to the way the curriculum has been created and who influenced the curriculum that I am teaching my future students.
When it comes to creating educational policies, everyone voices what they believe should be taught in schools. Post-secondary institutions, businesses, parents, teachers, experts, and many more all want students to finish their high school education with knowledge that they believe is important. As a future teacher, I think it is important for me to recognize the influences that different groups of people have of education. Education is not a neutral act and someone is always influencing the policies that are created that will influence students.
I have some concerns when it comes to how curriculum is created. With the expert based curriculum, I fear that if I am not an expert in the subject matter, I will not be able to implement the curriculum in the way that it should be taught. I am also concerned with this approach to creating curriculum because I am worried that there will be too much information that teachers need to go in depth with for the amount of time teachers have to teach the full curriculum.
As a future teacher, I am surprised that curriculum is typically created by experts in the subject matter. I thought some experts would be creating the curriculum along with some typical teachers that are part of that subject, but I did not realize it was expert based. I think it is important as a future educator to realize who is influencing the curriculum that I will be teaching. As stated in the reading, “curriculum decisions are often part of a much larger public debate that often extends beyond education to larger questions of public goods” and it is important for teachers and all educators to recognize this fact.
Is there anything about how curriculum is created that surprised you? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
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