Within the article The Problem of Common Sense, the author defines the concept of common sense as “what everyone should know” (Kumashiro, 2009). This loosely translates to the way in which the past traditions of a given society, be it Nepalese or American, are embraced to such an extent that they are continuously enforced within... Continue Reading →
The four modules of curriculum described in Mark Smiths’ article Curriculum Theory and Practice are as follows: curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted, curriculum as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students- product, curriculum as process and curriculum as praxis.
Curriculum as knowledge to be transmitted:
A possible benefit in looking at curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted, in my opinion, is the structure and schedule that it provides to teachers on what should be covered over the course of a unit/term/semester and year. I am a planner by nature- I LOVE scheduling and being able to know exactly what lies ahead of me so in this way the curriculum (or the syllabus) is a very helpful tool that I can refer back to when it comes to planning and organizing my classroom. A possible downfall to curriculum being ‘transmitted’ as it states in the article, is that is can cause some teachers rigidity in the way they shape their lesson plans, assignments or evaluation.
Curriculum as a product:
Curriculum thought to be a product focuses on the end results and not the experience of how one gets there… there is a concern with the ‘destination’ and not the ‘journey’ so to speak. I think of Henry Ford and his work on breaking down the process of building automobiles- workers do small tasks all day in an assembly line fashion to speed up the time it takes to complete an automobile. The focus is not on the craftsmanship, the skill or talent of the workers but rather whether or not they’re able to execute the small task successfully in effort to help complete the end result. In my opinion, this way of think of curriculum is very old and outdated- pale, male and stale is perhaps a better way to out it- and gives both teachers and students bland experiences.
It can be seen as beneficial to break bigger assignments down into smaller chunks; however I believe that it’s still very important for teachers to appreciate the journey of all of our students and use their strengths and talents to their advantage to get them where they need to go rather than expecting the same results out of everyone.
Curriculum as a process:
In this section I started to really feel like there was some change in thought about what schooling should mean/ look like/ be like for both students in teachers. I felt this sense of new-aged thinking was encapsulated in this section of the article where it says teachers should enter the classroom with a variety of skills and
“… Guided by these, they encourage conversations between, and with, people in the situation out of which may come thinking and action. They continually evaluate the process and what they can see of outcomes (pp.6).”
This really outlines the benefits of the process perspective and made it really easy for me to understand why this may be a better way to view curriculum.
A downside outlined in the article mentions the lack of consistency for students. Since there is room for teachers to continually evaluate and even manipulate the process and outcomes- that could mean some students may have a great experience while others not so much.
Curriculum as praxis:
I think the perfect line to encapsulate the benefits of curriculum as praxis is this: “…[P]raxis: informed, committed action (pp.10)”. To me, this places emphasis on the importance of the relationship you have with your students and how you can use that relationship to both yours and their benefits. You may ask yourself: How will my knowledge of the students, the community we are situated in, the demographic of the school population, my knowledge and level of comfortability with this content, the teaching methods I use, the government issued curriculum and the ‘informal curriculum’ help me to serve this students and help them experience success? All of these things, and I’d assume many more, should help us to become informed and committed teachers who are able to guide our students on their education journey.
I think that curriculum as praxis should be an adopted perspective by every teacher around the world and is certainly what I resonate the most with… I mean, look how awesome it is! However, I think in my schooling (especially elementary) was focused on curriculum as product. I heard time and time again “You need to know this to function in the real world- in order to get a job”. Well, what is the real world anyways? I imagine it looks different for everyone- maybe some students go off to university, maybe some go into the trades, maybe some inherit a family fortune, maybe some travel for the rest of their lives. Being put into school system that follows a ‘curriculum as product’ perspective outputs individuals that are exactly the same- everyone goes in as their own shape but graduates as a square because that what we think is best- and that doesn’t work for everyone and I would say it even sets those people up for failure. I think the different perspectives of curriculum has huge influence on students and can either help or severely hinder their progress in life.
What stands out in this article is how different our lives are from other parts of the world. In saying this I find it quite narrow minded of us (North Americans) how we throw our ideas onto others and assuming our way is right. There are so many other factors that play into this such as, religion, tradition, and education itself. I feel in many ways these schools like the one in Nepal that he refers to is doing what they feel is right.
So, what is common sense? That question I believe has to be answered on a day to day basis, even hour to hour. I think common sense is something that we as educators need to be aware of, and we can’t assume what is right from what a textbook says but doing what’s right at the time as things can change so quickly and we have to keep up on what is happening in the class.
This article really shows us how things are different throughout the world and how we as educators have to team keep adapting and changing and not always let a textbook tell us what to do and what is right. We have to remember people have lives outside of the school and we have to apply common sense at all times.
- Curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted
Benefits: This can be a nice base for first time teachers, and with doing so teachers can expand apply their own ideas unto the curriculum.
Drawbacks: One issue teaching from this model curriculum just scratches the surface of the content and not getting to the nuts and bolts of the topics and only scratching the surface.
- Curriculum as a product
Benefits: This way of teaching curriculum is practical in many ways as it is more intended to explain the content to children individually making it more genuine for each. Teaching the students more than what is in the text books and explores each topic more in-depth
Drawback This way takes quite some time to teach and focuses quite intently every time. So, this in many ways is to specific and instead of teaching you are focusing student by student which is not practical.
- Curriculum as a process
Benefits: is that now the final goal of the curriculum is not set as it is more flexible and can be adapted to each student. Which can give the student a way of getting the “answers” another way.
Drawback: It could promote a lack of integration. And in doing so could be to focused and with that the students could miss on some content as the learning is more focused on each induvial student.
- Curriculum as process
Benefits: Places an emphasis on judgment and meaning making. In turn helping students apply things to real life situations.
Drawbacks: This way can be a tricky thing to execute as the teacher is a big factor in this teaching practice which in turn could be disastrous.
When I went to school I was being taught by the old guard and many ways the curriculum being taught was a reflection of that. Which I believe these ways were taught in their own schooling and also into University. I have no bones about how I was taught but different ways could have ben beneficial but not always the case as time plays factor and each teacher can not adapt to new ways as that is not what is comfortable to them. Saying this might not be the most popular comment but things can’t always be adapted to us as an individual as in life we have to adapt and in ways learn how it gets taught.
The article “Critical Theory and Practice”, discusses four ways of approaching theory and practice. 1. Curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted. 2. Curriculum as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students- product. 3. Curriculum as a process. 4. Curriculum as a praxis. The article discusses the four approaches and their benefits and/or drawbacks
Curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted, refers to curriculum being a syllabus. A syllabus normally is a document that contains some of the information to be examined over the course. One of the drawbacks for this approach is that normally a syllabus follows the textbook in an order that topics appear and therefore, will be taught. It is important to introduce topics in a level of importance to help students receive the best understanding throughout the course. Ultimately, using this method people are most likely to “limit their planning to a consideration of the content or the body of knowledge that they wish to transmit” (Smith 1996, 2000). This can cause limited new ideas to appear throughout the course.
Curriculum as a product, means that the content of the course leads up to an end outcome that can be measured. This approach provides strict order and structure to what is being taught to ensure students are provided with the knowledge be able to produce the end outcome. This approach does not provide learners with a voice and learners are told what they must learn and how to do it. Many students learn differently and are interested in different topics. This approach limits students from exploring a topic on their own terms, in a way that makes sense to them. With such structure that must be followed, this often leaves teachers with little room to make any changes to help students or to explain any extra questions the students still have. This approach makes it easy for teachers to measure learning but how can it be accurate when in reality, every student reaches the outcome at a different pace using unique methods.
Next, curriculum as process explores more of the interactions that are present in a classroom. The article says there is an interaction between teachers, students, and the knowledge. Curriculum as a process means what is happening in the classroom and what people do to prepare and evaluate (Smith, 1996,2000). There are more benefits to this approach compared to the others. This approach is beneficial because it actually translates the educational idea into ways to explore it and furthermore test it. This concept provides a uniqueness to each classroom because each classroom will have unique interactions and ways of expressing knowledge between teachers and students. Students are provided a voice with this concept and are able to learn and share each topic. One slight drawback to the concept is that it limits the ability for some to get more in-depth knowledge they wish to acquire. Overall, this practice has more benefits than drawbacks.
The final approach, curriculum as praxis, involves a continual evaluation by teachers and is used to generate an informed and committed action from the whole process. This approach further explores the concept of interaction. The interaction between action and reflection actually involves students taking what is being taught, reflecting on it, and therefore, performing an action from the knowledge they acquired. This approach is beneficial because it explores interactions with not simply students and teachers, but pushes for information from outside groups, people, experiences, cultural groups, and races. Students can also pull knowledge from those also studying this topic or teachers can share what they have found themselves from studying the topic. This approach pulls everything together and helps students to apply their knowledge and continue to apply it even after the course is over.
The approach I was most familiar with while in school was the curriculum as a product approach. Most teachers felt they had to follow certain information to lead us into the year end standardized test. This approach was difficult because we were all expected to learn the information the same way with the same method. Many students fell behind and teachers were unable to deliver more information to help them catch up. I did however have a teacher that used the curriculum as praxis approach and I found I was able to learn the most and enjoy the class the most. We were also encouraged to share our ideas and look further into the topic and in many different directions. We always had time for questions and to share ideas and to make more discoveries. I think curriculum should be more than just a product or syllabus, it should be practical and applicable.
Kumashiro describes common-sense to be something routine and commonplace (2009). Common sense is also described to be learned values, assumptions, and expectations (2009). Common sense is different around the world and too many people due to a variety of factors. Health, age, ability, nationality, race, and many other factors influence what common sense is to people. Many people are confused or uncomfortable with the idea of someone else’s common sense being different than theirs. For example, Kumashiro was uncomfortable and felt like an outsider at some points when teaching in Nepal.
Common sense was described to be different around the world due to many factors. It is important to pay attention to common sense and how is it different for many cultures and in different locations around the world. What is known as common-sense to one person may be completely different to another. The text explains how sometimes, common sense can be very oppressive when people assume everyone knows something to be common sense. In education, it is important to pay attention to what is thought to be common-sense because in reality, many common sense ways of thinking are developed because of routine. The routines usually benefit a certain race, gender, nationality, and more often than not are most beneficial to privileged students. In order for education to come less oppressive towards certain groups, genders, races, or nationalities, teachers must pay attention to it and find ways to make not so common sense more commonly practiced and taught in classes. Knowledge should not be limited to what is common to the area, it should be broadened and explored so students are more aware of the common sense others might have.
Commonsense is our values, beliefs, the things we do and the reason we do those things. It is a cultural thing, it is your traditions, the way things have always been done and the way the society around you has taught to act. Kumashiro defines commonsense as a way of reinforcing certain perspectives, practices, values, and groups of people and continuing to value those things above others.
In my opinion it is important to pay attention to commonsense because it shows us as people what we value and what is important to us. But we need to understand that commonsense is only coming from a certain privileged position that may only be beneficial to a certain group of people. Commonsense does not value all perspectives and needs, it can be different for everyone and especially different in every single culture. Yet for some commonsense is something that does not change, and should be universal for everyone despite it not necessarily fitting for everyone. In addition commonsense changes depending on where you are in the world and what you are doing. Not everyone has had the same experience or has grown up with the same values, so something that is commonsense in Canada is not commonsense in Zambia; common sense can also be different in a small town in Saskatchewan compared to Regina. Commonsense then can become dangerous if we do not pay attention to it as we try to impose our own ideas that we consider commonsense on others.
This article published by infed.org explains the curriculum really well. The focus of this article is around 4 models of curriculum:
- Curriculum as a body of knowledge to be Transmitted
- Curriculum as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students- Product
- Curriculum as process
- Curriculum as praxis
First, I will be talking about the transmitted model. In the article, they talked much about the syllabus. This model is actually the ability to transmit the syllabus. I believe there are both pros and cons to the syllabus. I believe there is lots of great information to help guide the teacher to teach. To people who are very linear and like to go by the book, this could be a helpful tool. Also, it makes every school equal where all students must learn the same information. It can also be a negative aspect of schooling. It limits the teacher’s ability to teach. As described in the article, “A syllabus will not generally indicate the relative importance of its topics or the order in which they are to be studied. In some cases as Curzon (1985) points out, those who compile a syllabus tend to follow the traditional textbook approach of an ‘order of contents’”. This quote explains how the syllabus does not really entertain any ‘important’ topics. Instead just shows what you have to teach.
The curriculum is also product-focused. This means goals are set, in which students and teachers must meet the requirements. The goal tendency is usually to get a high grade in school, complete your assignments on time and write your exams. The positives of this model are it works for many students. They can show up to class and know what to expect where this creates less stress. The negatives to this can be how students or teachers have no wiggle room. They must meet deadlines to complete assignments. For teachers, they must teach the syllabus before the departmental exam because they must have learned every unit.
Another model of curriculum is ‘process’. The process described in the article is “In this sense curriculum is not a physical thing, but rather the interaction of teachers, students, and knowledge. In other words, curriculum is what actually happens in the classroom and what people do to prepare and evaluate”. This basically describes the curriculum as a peer in the classroom. This is where students, teachers, and curriculum all work together to achieve goals.
The fourth and final model is ‘praxis’. Praxis can be defined as the approach to the curriculum as being dynamic. This creates an atmosphere of active learning. Active learning benefits a multitude of people. The classroom can be altered to benefit all students. Personally, I cannot see many cons to this model. It allows openness inside the classroom and allows learning to be freer.
My high school experience was product-focused. I remember going to class, learning my subject, given an assignment, studying, then a midterm and a final. It made my education really good for understanding the syllabus and curriculum but limited my creativity. I notice myself being not creative. I am unsure if this is my human nature or from my schooling.
There are four models of curriculum which are transmitted, product, process and praxis. When looking at curriculum model to be transmitted it is clear what needs to be taught and it is all laid out formally. However, it looks as though the purpose for it is an exam and not all students can display their learning through an exam. The curriculum as a product is good for being organized and clear of the outcomes. It also was good for teaching students what they need to know for being able to be good workers. Disadvantages to this though are that the children do not get much of a voice and this could result in them not being interested or acting out which would not accomplish what this theory is meant for. For curriculum as a process advantages of this are that the students and teachers get to interact differently than other models. There is a lot of out of classroom learning and the students get to experience learning in new ways. It also gives students a voice in class. A weakness of the process model is that teachers might not be comfortable with teaching in this way and lose control of the classroom or go back to teaching the way they were. Curriculum as praxis is good for getting students to think critically and having class discussions.
When I was in school we followed the product theory the most. A lot of the classes were structured where we were taught a lesson, did an assignment and then at the end of the unit we did an exam. For me, this made it easy to remember things because we were frequently getting tested on the information that we were supposed to know. However, for some students this style was not suited for them because they prefer to display their learning by writing or discussions. Our school was also really big on making sure that we new how to behave “properly”. This does not take into account students who might have something big going on in their life. Also, deadlines were important because we were told how once we are working we will have deadlines that cannot be moved. Overall, for me this worked out but for lots of others they did not enjoy this set up.
Smith states that the four models of curriculum are curriculum body of knowledge to be transmitted, curriculum as a product, curriculum as process, and curriculum as praxis. Curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted specifically outlines what is to be learned, organized and provides students with an ‘order of contents’ of what is to be taught (Smith, 2000). This model is solely focused on the content. Curriculum as a product deals with a matter of measurement. There is a number of issues with this model such as it assumes great importance as well as programmes exist prior to and outside of the learning experiences students have (Smith, 2000). In this model learners can end up with little to no voice as they are told exactly what they are to learn and how they must do it (Smith, 2000). In this model the learner has to meet the behavioural objectives which presents as a product. The curriculum as a process model views curriculum as theory and practice via a process. It relies heavily upon the quality of the teacher and is dependent on the development of management thinking and practice (Smith, 2000). This model defines curriculum as an active process with the interaction of teachers, student, and knowledge rather than a physical plan (Smith, 2000). The curriculum as a praxis model is noted as a development of the process model. The praxis model suggests that curriculum is not just a set of plans to be followed but an active process involves planning, executing and evaluating forming a process (Smith, 2000).
In my own schooling experience, the curriculum as a product model was prominent. I believe our curriculum in Saskatchewan is set up this way mostly. Objectives are set and then the outcomes or goals are measured by certain criteria that must be met. This model in particular made it impossible to do any sort of inquiry learning as it outlined exactly what was to be learned and exactly how we would learn it. Another model that was prevalent in my schooling was the curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted or in other words a syllabus. I have experienced this model in my post-secondary education in majority of my classes in my four years, especially in my Kinesiology classes. Curriculum is solely focused on content which makes sense in a university course as there is a large body of information/knowledge that has to be transmitted in a set period of time.