Friday, January 17, 2014

Year 4: Week 18 - Curriculum

In an in-service day earlier this week, my department discussed articulating our own curriculum. We were asked some questions to consider at the beginning of the day. Here are some of my answers:

1. What sort of curriculum do we need?

Curriculum works in concert with assessment and instruction to inform these other parts of teaching as they inform curriculum. Curriculum is a reflection of the philosophy and priorities of not only the school but also the larger community of education and the broader society.

The need for curriculum is to organize our thoughts and also to express to others the viewpoints, the perspectives and the ways of thinking that best reflects the values we hold dear.

The sort of curriculum that we need is a framework for us to work from and build, not the kind that is a cage that limits us as teachers. It should inform us when ideas are sparse but also steer the ship when ideas are plentiful. It should be holistic in thinking about the broader perspective between grades but should also hold value by itself in isolation of what came before and what is coming after.

The fluidity of curriculum is based on different possibilities that can come as an expression of these values and should not come from a lack of clear understandings of philosophy and priorities of the school.

Curriculum are choices are made based on the values which grow from the philosophy of the school which is both structured enough to provide guidance but fluid enough to allow teachers to respond to the reality of the human condition and not the idealized student.

2. What form should curriculum take?

Curriculum should take the form of a multi-layered document that shows the broad scope of the department with other additions that can provide details. Examples of repertoire are important but also fundamental character building is vital. This form should reflect other forms that curriculum take on in other parts of the school. For the form must serve not only the teachers but also the wider school community.

3. What will we do with it?

Leave it on shelf and forget about it. Kind of. . .

Here's the thing, if the curriculum is done well and truly reflects the philosophy of the school and the teachers, then the curriculum is not something that needs to be opened up every day for a guidance. Many things in the curriculum should be innate in who we are as teachers.

This document should be used used long term planning and also helps when someone is absent. So yes, leave it on the shelf, most of the time. I feel that curricula hold their value more in the process of creating them, than in their everyday use.

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