Prior to the reading I had viewed curriculum development as a closed off process, done largely by civil servants within the Ministry of Education, with consultations from the school board, and educators. I don’t have much memory of the consultation processes of the last major curriculum renewal, even though I was part of one of the first groups of students to experience the new science curriculum.
After the reading, I see now that although the process is led by the ministry of education, it is also pushed by special interest groups, and public feedback to changes. The renewal teams gather consultations from experts of the field, industry leaders, educators, universities, as well as the general public, and in most cases people like the industry leaders, or university representatives have a lot more power when it comes to changes to the curriculum. One group that seemed to have very little say was the students, which was mentioned in lecture yesterday. I also found it interesting that the example from Ontario ended up acting in a compromise to the recommendations of the initial review committee which had found, based on evidence presented by schools and mathematics experts and university administrators, that the removal of calculus from high school curriculum followed by a restructuring of high level math courses, would have ultimately led to better math results. They ended with a compromise because there was public outcry, and industry groups spoke against it.
In this blog post I examine and reflect a quotation from Maxine Greene’s paper Diversity and Inclusion: Toward a Curriculum for Human Beings. The quote is:
” ‘Democracy, Dewey wrote, is a community always in the making.’ If educators hold this in mind, they will remember that democracy is forever incomplete; it is founded in possibility. Even in the small, the local spaces in which teaching is done, educators may begin creating the kinds of situations where, at the very least, students will begin telling the stories of what they are seeking, that they know and might not yet know.”
– Maxine Greene.
The ideas presented in this quote allows for student input in what they learn. The definition of democracy allows the potential for a classroom that makes use of the ideas behind democracy for learning. If used to augment learning experiences it allows the classroom the potential to constantly evolve as it shapes to the educational community present.
By allowing students to share what they already know, and what they seek to know, it can allow the educational experience to evolve as the students as individuals require, while at the same time allowing the needs be adjusted to fit the community. Using these methods also shows that as a community evolves the systems that the community interacts with can and should evolve to fit the community.
Article Link: http://wp.vcu.edu/hhughesdecatur/files/2013/01/Toward-a-curriculum-for-human-beings_Maxine-Greene.pdf
Quote location: pg 218
Smith – Curriculum Theory and Practice talks about the Tyler Rationale and product theories of curriculum. The traditionalist model was present in every single class I took between the grades of 1-12 in one way or another. In high school the classes were taught to an exam, even when they introduced different ideas, the vast majority of the classes were ticking off outcomes that would be present on the final, whether that was a government departmental exam or a exam designed by the teacher, they both follow the principles of the Tyler rationale in focusing on the product, or performance on the exam more than the processes and interactions that students most often experience learning from.
The Tyler rationale makes many personal learning experiences that occur through direct interaction between the students and the teachers about how the content of the course actually applies in life. When I took math courses in high school, I only had two times in the eight semesters that I took math where a practical application had been presented, and I was told in my last year in high school that problem solving is one of the main applications do math classes. Another example is in science classes, when the curriculum was changed, the entire lab portion was cut from grade 11 chemistry, which is the only point that the students get a practical view of how the processes they learn about actually work and are used. I had been fortunate that when the chemistry department at my school developed the class they were unwilling to cut all lab experience from the course, but it happened in other high schools.
The idea of common sense as is defined in the reading by Kumashiro is assumed knowledge that is culturally specific that we take for granted, as shown we Kumashiro described his experience teaching in Nepal, he had to learn the routines in the village where he was teaching, and when he got to the school and tried implementing the strategies that he brought from the United States was met with resistance from the students because it was going against their established common sense in school.
It is important for us to pay attention to common sense because common sense is often used to mask the oppressive practices within our school systems, and can also be used as a method of forcefully implanting the culture of the majority onto students who are part of cultural minorities within our country. What seems like common sense to us will be very strange and foreign to people outside of our own culture, and the methods used by us that are considered common sense will be seen as equally as foreign. The concept of commonsense has been used for generations to silently push aside any suggestion that may work to reduce oppression by making it seem like the system works as it is, and doesn’t need to change. Kumashiro said that the language of “Traditional” is often used in this regard to strike down new ideas that will change how we do schooling, and often will help with the resistance to change in schooling to anti-oppressive systems. As our country grows more and more multi-cultural we as teachers have to change to a system of anti-oppressive education in order to make school a safe place where all students can learn in a way that works for them, and where students will feel welcome.
Paraphrases of Kumashiro came from the introduction to “The problem of common sense”.