Curriculum theory and practice

The first model of curriculum that was discussed in the article was curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted. A syllabus is basically a roadmap of the material that will be covered. It is very concise and direct. It is said by Curzon (1985) that those who compile and follow a syllabus are using the traditional textbook approach of order of contents and thus provides a very content based curriculum. An advantage to this form of curriculum is that it is very simple teach and grade. The drawbacks include the fact that it is very black and white, there is little room for any creativity or spontaneity in that classroom setting.

The second model of curriculum as discussed described curriculum as a product. In this model, objectives are set, plans are drawn, the plans are applied, and the outcomes are measured. This model was influenced by management thinking and practice, tasks are laid out and simplified. This model is advantageous because it is systematic and well organized. It is very practical and intuitive and therefore can be effective for a wide range of students. A disadvantage to this model is that it assumes that behavior can be objectively measured. This model measures a subjective quality objectively and this leads to issues concerning ethics, i.e. right vs wrong and good vs bad.

The third model is curriculum as a process. Curriculum as a process suggests that curriculum is not a list of objectives and outcomes. Curriculum as a process is the process of learning through the experiences, conversations and events that take place in the classroom. Lawrence Stenhouse said that the process curriculum is the means by which the experience of putting educational proposals into practice is made available. Some advantageous points of this model include an active classroom that encourages critical thinking and analysis of what is being taught. It is also very flexible thus, students with different backgrounds, ideologies and weaknesses can learn in the same setting. However, Issues arise with this model when we consider the fact that the success of the learning is highly reliant on the teacher. A certain level of Wisdom and life skills must be possessed by the teacher or else activities will lose their value.

The fourth and final model is curriculum as a praxis. The praxis model is said to be somewhat derivative of the process model in that it is driven by general principles and places emphasis on judgement and meaning making. However, it does not make specific statements about what purpose it serves. Using the praxis model, students in marginalized groups can become objectively aware of their own situation and therefore understand it better.

In my personal schooling experience, the models found were mostly curriculum as a product with elements of curriculum as a process thrown in. I found in classes that dealt with very grounded concepts such as math and physics, the product model was predominantly used. Which I think makes sense. In classes where there truly is a single right answer to a particular question, it would be useless to sit in a circle and question whether the answer is indeed true. The product method then allows for more material to be covered throughout the semester. However, the product method does not help when students cannot grasp certain concepts like thermodynamics. On the other hand, the process model was implemented in classes such as language arts classes and history. I think the process model is useful in language arts classes because answers are very often subjective in that type of class. Even though there might be multiple right answers, some are better than others. This dilemma requires aspects of critical thinking to back up your claim to persuade your peers. In this case the process model is very useful. The process model also makes these classes more exciting. If classes such as English or History were strictly curriculum as a product, they would be even more unbearable.  

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The Problem of Common Sense

                Kumashiro in his text defines common sense to be ideas and methods of life that have been normalized within a specific society. As a society evolves and diversifies, what can be considered common sense will change accordingly. The common sense that Kumashiro writes about is not as culturally universal as the idea that it is not okay to kill people. Not killing people I would imagine is common sense all over the world. Kumashiro speaks of the western interpretation of common sense, particularly in the classroom setting. He writes that common sense dictates what schools should be doing. Consequently, because common sense is a very social and political concept, anyone who deviates from this train of thought is said to be senseless or even counterproductive.              

   It is important to pay attention to these ideas of what common sense is because there are ideas in our society that contradict many of these common sense ideas. For example, when a child is born with male genitalia, common sense dictates that the gender of that child is also male. However as we now know there are for lack of a better term conditions like gender dysphoria or Klinefelter syndrome where the persons genitalia does not dictate their gender. Assuming the commonsensical idea that genitalia dictates gender can be offensive and oppressive to many groups and as educators; we have a higher obligation towards our students to be mindful of these differences. Another contradiction to probably the most common piece of common sense is abortion. It is common sense to not kill people, and even though the jury is still out on at what point a fetus is considered human, the process of abortion is objectively to stop a child from ever having a life. Although abortion contradicts one commonsensical idea, it also runs parallel with other ideas. For example, when a horse breaks it’s leg, chances are that the horse will be shot. This is because the chances of recovery for that horse are pretty slim and the process will be agonizing for the horse. It is common sense to spare that horse of all the misery it will go through just to have a slight chance of success. This relates to idea of abortion, is it common sense to not kill something or is it common sense to spare a creature a life of pain and suffering. At this point it becomes much more philosophical but the premise that you have to pay attention to it stands. Common sense can often contradict itself when discussing ethical topics. It is then important above all else to respect others right to a belief.

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“Curriculum Theory and Practice” Response

“Curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted”

This first model of curriculum’s main take away is that the curriculum is based on a syllabus. A syllabus according to the article, is the units/subjects of a chain of lectures. In my schooling experience, this is the most common form of curriculum I have experienced, and what my personal definition of curriculum has been my entire life up to this course. A syllabus is very structured and usually follows a ‘textbook’ approach. I think this model can be a great foundation for teachers since it usually just provides outcomes and indicators for teachers, allowing them to use their creativity for how they want to approach and teach the lessons on the curriculum. On the contrary, it is only concerned with the content the student is learning. Yes, it is important to have a schedule and list of things to accomplish before the next grade level, however not every student learns the same way and at the same pace. There is not a lot of time in a semester, so even though a structured syllabus can help a teacher be organized, it will make teachers focus more on completing the course materials rather than focusing on the student’s learning abilities and needs. This model has been used for a great length of time and I am glad that we are learning more about it in this class and thinking about more effective ways of approaching and teaching curriculum.

“Curriculum as Product”

The second model is described as curriculum having a specific outcome for a student. These outcomes are attained through a series of objectives that will develop a student’s knowledge on how to go their daily lives and learn how to do what some people refer to as “adult” things after they complete high school. The article lists steps to this form of curriculum. These steps including the objective of the need, the plan to accomplish the need and applying the plan, with the end product of the objectives being calculated. When first reading this model of curriculum, it seems like a great idea. Often times when I was in high school, my classmates, including myself, would question the material being taught. We would wonder “why does this stuff matter?”, “when am I ever going to use this information?”. This model approaches from reading the article appears to address these questions and advocates more towards teaching skills that students should acquire for their personal lives. The article also lists many disadvantages to this curriculum approach. For instance, it mentions that students do not really have a say in what is being taught and that what they learn is how they have to do things. It also mentions that behavior can be measured and that is it difficult to judge the experiences of others. I think the foundation of this model has great potential but has some work to do to make sure it done properly and carefully thought out.

“Curriculum as Process”

In this third model of curriculum, Stenhouse describes it as a recipe. I like this analogy of curriculum and how he says it’s first a possibility, then the subject of experiment. I also like when he mentions that the recipe can be “varied according to taste”. This thought out model is outlined by first the teacher planning the content and how it is to be learned to meet the needs of the students. Then on how to implement and evaluate the student’s learning progress, and lastly the intention of the curriculum. It is opposite to the first model as it does not believe in following a syllabus but rather specific to the teacher’s classroom and students. The positives of this model are that it does not have a set amount of outcomes and can be adapted however the teacher feels necessary. The drawbacks of this model are that it puts an immense amount of pressure on the teachers. Some teachers have a hard time coming up with plans and a syllabus can be a helpful guideline for them to get started.

“Curriculum as Praxis”

This final model of curriculum piggybacks off of the process model, as it is described as the expansion of the process model. This model, as the article describes, is built upon action and reflection. It takes into consideration both the teacher’s and the student’s values and opinions which can lead to a variety of results. I think this approach to curriculum is a great way to allow students to express themselves and what they value in their learning. The drawback to this would be the student’s willingness to open up about certain subjects and a fear of being judged.

After reading this article, I feel much more confident in how I view curriculum. It has also opened my eyes and made me think about how complex curriculum really is and that it is not just a syllabus and list of outcomes. It is important to keep in mind the students and how they learn and what their strengths and weaknesses are before going off of a standardized curriculum.

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Curriculum Theory and Practice

The four models of curriculum described in “Curriculum Theory and Practice” are curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted, curriculum as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students is product, curriculum as process, and curriculum as praxis.

Curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted is the first model explained in the article out of the four models. Curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted is beneficial for students who are more experienced learners. This model consists of a concise description and outline of a course subject. The syllabus doesn’t necessarily state the importance of the topics being studied, which is a concerning factor. This model is usually referred as the ‘traditional’ schooling approach and solely focuses on the content of study.

The second model described in the article is curriculum as product. It is “heavily influenced by the development of management thinking and practice.” This is where an intention is proposed, carried out by a written plan, practiced, and the outcomes are measured. This model emphasizes on the practice of skills or components and then carried out. This approach is beneficial because it is an organized way to carry out objectives by providing clear outcomes and results, which are then examined. The drawback to this particular model is that the students learning have little to no voice, which restrains the learner to learn to their full potential. This practice also limits the student’s behaviour to interact, because the plan is concrete where the learner is told what they have to do and how they will execute it. It is also concerning when taking into the fact that what is being measured cannot always be systematic. The experiences learned in schools are not always measurable. This model is sometime referred to as a shopping list, when students learn the measurable competences they are then checked off and shown that the learner has learned something.

The third model is curriculum as process, which widely relies on the setting of behavioural objectives. “The curriculum, essentially, is a set of documents for implementation.” This approach focuses on the interaction between the teacher, students, and knowledge being learned. This approach is an active learning process in the classroom that is then evaluated. This approach is beneficial to both the educator and students because the curriculum in thoroughly though out and executed. This process enhances the students learning abilites by allowing to internalize the knowledge being learned. It focuses on the interactions between students. This enables students to have a voice through their relationships between the teacher and their peers. The drawback for this approach is that it may not pay enough attention to the context in which learning takes places.

The last curriculum and practice theory approach is curriculum as praxis. This curriculum approach practices a dynamic of interaction of action and reflection. It is made up of plans to be implemented through an active process of integrating planning, acting, and evaluating. An important role for curriculum as a praxis is the collective understanding, practices, and structural questions. There is a clear advantage for this model, it highlights a collective understanding of one’s learning abilities. Essentially, teachers use this approach to further understand what works and what does not work in a classroom setting. Similiar to curriculum as process, the drawback for this model is that it doesn’t focus enough on the context.

The model of curriculum that was used in my schooling experience was curriculum as product. This approach worked well for me, having a set plan and clear outcomes. Although, in my experience I enjoyed the structure of clear outcomes and objectives, I could understand why this would not work for everyone and even myself at times. It does not allow the learner to have much of a voice in the classroom. Growing up in a small town with what it seemed like little diversity among students, allowed curriculum as product to be permitted. With an influx of immigrants coming to Canada and more diversity in schools, it is clear that this model of curriculum has its flaws. It does not enable the learner to learn to their full potential, because it is only specific to certain types of students. I think it is important to keep in mind, that our population is more than ever diverse, therefore, we have diverse learners in schools and as a future educator it is important to accommodate to all types of learners.


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Comment Kumashiro définit-il le “sens commun”et pourquoi est-il important de porter attention au “sens commun”

Selon Kumashiro, le sens commun renvoi à un groupe de personnes qui partage un système de croyances similaire où ils identifient leurs pratiques et leurs connaissances de base comme la norme et tout ce qui est en dehors de cette norme est considérée comme différent. Il explique également que le sens commun nous procure une certaine sensation de confort, car il nous aide à comprendre notre vie de tous les jours. Cependant, les normes privilégient certains groupes et identités et indiquent que le sens commun nous dit seulement ce que les écoles devraient faire et non pas ce qu’elle pourrait faire. Lorsque l’on ne prête pas attention au sens commun, c’est comme si on ne tenait pas compte de la façon dont les gens sont marginalisés, désavantagés, opprimés et que l’on n’envisage pas d’autres solutions. 

Il est important de prêter attention au sens commun, car ce qui peut être du « sens commun » pour moi peut être très différent pour une autre personne. Il est nécessaire d’accepter qu’il puisse y avoir des différences et que le sens commun change constamment. Par exemple, il est devenu normal pour nous de faire face à une oppression sans nous en rendre compte. De manière générale, nous ne considérons pas notre sens commun comme oppressant, car c’est ainsi que nous avons pensé et continuerons à penser. 

Il est difficile de remettre en question l’idée du sens commun dans notre système éducatif, car il est difficile de remettre en question « les traditions » c’est-à-dire ce que l’on nous a toujours enseigné et de quitter « notre zone de confort », qui peut être réconfortant pour sa familiarité et donner un sentiment d’habitude. 

Ainsi, les éducateurs ne sont pas censés examiner les différences, mais ils doivent plutôt évaluer ce qui se passe dans la vie quotidienne et intégrer ces nouveaux aspects dans leur vie quotidienne. Les enseignants doivent accepter le changement et incorporer des pratiques différenciées dans leur instruction. Il faut aller vers une éducation anti-oppressive c’est-à-dire une forme d’éducation qui évolue continuellement et qui ne craint pas le changement. 

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Théorie et pratique du curriculum de Mark K. Smith 1996,2000

D’après article de Smith « Curriculum theory and practice”, l’auteur analyse le programme d’études en fonction de quatre approches possibles pour aborder la théorie et la pratique du curriculum dans le système scolaire.

La première approche est celle du curriculum (ou programme) en tant que corpus de connaissances à transmettre à partir de méthodes d’enseignement efficaces. Étant donné que le programme d’enseignement est assimilé à un programme qui met l’accent sur le contenu, les enseignants qui y adhèrent à cette conviction, estiment que les questions relatives au programme d’étude ne les concernent plus tant que le contenu est enseigné de façon efficace aux apprenants. 

La deuxième approche porte sur le curriculum comme tentative d’atteindre certains objectifs chez les étudiants ou en tant que produit. Cette approche est basée sur les travaux de Ralph W. Tyler qui souligne l’importance de la formulation des objectifs comportementaux. En effet, la théorie et la pratique du curriculum sont systématiques et organisées dans la mesure où l’approche suit certaines procédures qui visent à répondre aux besoins des étudiants. Smith a débuté sa méthode, en se basant à partir de quatre questions fondamentales à prendre en compte lors de l’élaboration d’un programme et de la procédure à suivre pour le mener à bien. Cependant, cette approche soulève plusieurs inconvénients.

1) Tout d’abord, le fait que le programme est préétabli, les apprenants ne peuvent pas décider de ce qu’ils vont apprendre ou de la façon dont ils vont l’apprendre. Également, cela engendre aussi des problèmes du côté des enseignants, car leurs interactions sont limitées avec les étudiants (sur la façon dont ils apprennent), les transformant ainsi en programmateurs (techniciens, machines).

2) Un deuxième inconvénient concerne les questions sur la nature des objectifs. Le curriculum en tant que produit suggère que le comportement peut être mesuré de façon objective et mécanique. Le danger évident ici, est qu’il y a toujours une certaine incertitude quant à ce qui est mesuré du fait qu’il est difficile de juger l’impact de certaines expériences, car l’apprentissage peut prendre du temps. Un autre problème se retrouve au niveau de la nature des objectifs à cause que les compétences triviales sont plus importantes que les compétences globales. 

3) Le troisième inconvénient concerne la pratique pédagogique des objectifs. Il s’agit d’un modèle de théorie et de pratique du curriculum fondé sur des paramètres technologiques et industriels qui ne peuvent pas être applicable dans une salle de classe. 

4) Le dernier problème est celui des résultats inattendus. Smith conclut sur l’idée que l’apprentissage se produit aussi par le biais d’une interaction et non pas uniquement à travers des listes d’objectifs.

La troisième approche concerne le curriculum en tant que processus.  

Le programme en tant que processus n’est pas une chose physique, mais plutôt une interaction constante entre les enseignants et les étudiants, c’est-à-dire à ce qui se passe réellement dans la salle de classe et ce que les individus font pour se préparer et évaluer.  

L’avantage de cette approche est que le programme d’études n’est pas rigide, mais peut être ajusté en fonction des besoins communiqués et évalués par ceux qui sont impliqués dans le processus d’apprentissage (puisqu’il fournit une description des événements qui se déroulent en classe). Pour cela, l’auteur a décrit les principales étapes du curriculum de L. Stenhouse et l’a comparé en tant que produit et en tant que processus en matière de modèles, de résultats, de pratiques pédagogiques et d’apprenants. 

Le modèle de produit participe à des ateliers tandis que le modèle de processus préfère l’expérimentation. Au niveau des pratiques pédagogiques, dans le modèle de produit, les enseignants acceptent les objectifs comportementaux définis dans le programme, tandis que dans le modèle de processus, les idées ou propositions pédagogiques sont testées et vérifiées par les enseignants dans leurs classes respectives. Au niveau des résultats d’apprentissage, le modèle de produit préétablit les objectifs comportementaux, le contenu et les méthodes, alors que dans le modèle de processus, le contenu et les méthodes sont développés au fur et à mesure que les apprenants et les étudiants interagissent. De la sorte, dans le modèle de produit, les apprenants sont des objets sur lesquels il faut agir, puisque le plan est prédéfini, l’accent est mis sur l’enseignement alors que dans le modèle de processus, les apprenants participent à leur propre apprentissage par le biais d’interactions avec leurs éducateurs. De cette manière, l’attention est accordée particulièrement au processus d’apprentissage et non à celui de l’enseignement pour atteindre les objectifs visés. 

1) Cependant, un certain nombre de problèmes se posent dont la première concerne le degré d’uniformité dans ce qui est enseigné. En effet, cette approche identifie les apprenants comme des sujets plutôt que comme des objets, et reconnaît qu’il existe des différences individuelles entre les étudiants, et que le contenu varie.  

2) Le deuxième problème est axé sur le contexte dans lequel se déroule l’apprentissage. Dans un modèle de processus, les étudiants passent des examens publics (c’est-à-dire qui sont normalisés) et s’ils obtiennent un score faible, cela peut être interprété comme une faiblesse de la part de l’étudiant, du fait qu’il est évalué sur un ensemble de critères qui reposent sur des bases données et non sur ses propres progrès en tant qu’apprenant individuel. 

3)Troisièmement, le problème des enseignants réside dans le fait qu’il repose sur la qualité des éducateurs. S’ils n’ont pas la capacité d’aider les élèves à donner un sens au monde en cultivant la sagesse et en créant un sens en classe, l’apprentissage des élèves en sera affecté.  Plusieurs mesures ont été prises pour remédier à ce problème, mais le fait que les processus se réduisent à des ensembles de compétences sont la conséquence même et la faiblesse de cette approche. 

La quatrième approche met l’accent sur le curriculum en tant que pratique ou praxis. 

En effet, ce modèle met en évidence l’engagement explicite en faveur de l’émancipation de l’esprit humain en encourageant collectivement les étudiants et les enseignants à faire face aux véritables problèmes de leur existence et de leurs relations, par le biais d’interactions, de réflexions et d’actions bien informées et engagées. 

Une critique du curriculum en tant que praxis est qu’il ne met pas l’accent sur le contexte. Pour prouver l’importance du contexte dans le programme, Smith a cité Catherine Cornbleth qui a souligné que le curriculum est façonné de manière contextuelle du fait qu’il ne peut pas être compris de manière adéquate et ni modifiée de manière substantielle sans prendre en compte son contexte. 

La discussion sur le curriculum caché soutien que ce sont les choses que les étudiants apprennent « à cause de la manière dont le travail à l’école est planifié et organisé, et qui n’est pas inclut en soi dans la planification des programmes scolaires ». Bien que le curriculum caché soit souvent perçu négativement, il peut néanmoins avoir des effets positifs lorsqu’il aide à développer des compétences socialement valorisées chez les étudiants (donc à contribuer à l’autonomie personnelle et collective) et à la critique et à la remise en question éventuelle des nomes et des institutions existantes. 

L’auteur a mentionné que si le curriculum est considéré comme un processus social conceptualisé, la notion de curriculum caché devient répondante, plus précisément un élément central dans nos processus. 

1) Néanmoins, il a aussi montré des problèmes lorsque le programme est adopté dans l’éducation informelle. Effectivement, dans les modèles de curriculum, les objectifs et les activités sont définis ou planifiés, mais les résultats de l’éducation informelle ne nécessitent pas d’objectif particulier. De plus, la nature des activités utilisées dans l’éducation informelle est imprévisible. 

2) Un autre argument est que dans les modèles de curriculum, les éducateurs ont un plan spécifique d’actions pour l’enseignement et l’apprentissage. En d’autres termes, l’apprentissage dans les modèles de programmes est planifié, tandis que dans l’éducation informelle, l’apprentissage n’est pas planifié, mais spontané. Puisque le contexte définit le curriculum, il est évident que le contexte du curriculum (ou programme d’études) est étroitement lié à l’école et aux éléments qui y sont rattachés. 

Lorsque les enseignants informels utilisent les termes du curriculum, ils franchissent les frontières entre l’éducation formelle et informelle.

Je pense que toutes les approches mentionnées par l’auteur devraient être intégrées pour donner une meilleure vision holistique du curriculum, c’est-à-dire qui ramène à la connaissance particulière, de l’individu à celle de l’ensemble, du tout dans lequel il s’inscrit. Le programme d’études doit répondre aux besoins de la société et par conséquent, il doit prendre en compte le milieu social des étudiants pour l’aider à résoudre des problèmes et à proposer des solutions. Ainsi, il est important de se concentrer sur le curriculum en tant que produit (preuve de ce que chaque élève peut faire grâce à l’apprentissage) et en tant que processus (comment chaque élève apprend en classe). L’avantage de la conception du curriculum centrée sur l’apprenant est qu’il est axé sur ses besoins, ses intérêts et ses objectifs. De cette manière, il reconnaît que les élèves ne sont pas uniformes mais individuels et par conséquent, ils ne devraient pas dans tous les cas, être soumis à un programme d’études normalisé. De plus, il est important de noter que l’éducation et l’apprentissage d’une personne ne sont pas limités à l’intérieur de l’enceinte de l’école, d’où s’ajoute une éducation informelle qui va venir renforcer et compléter cet apprentissage. L’éducation formelle et informelle devrait être combinée et travailler ensemble pour obtenir un apprentissage optimal pour les étudiants afin qu’ils atteignent leur potentiel. Avoir un programme d’études différencié permet de mobiliser et de motiver les élèves, mais d’un autre côté, il peut créer une pression chez l’enseignant qui doit obtenir le matériel spécifique pour répondre aux besoins de l’apprentissage de chaque étudiant. 

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How Do You See Curriculum?

In everything I read I like to take things in the context of an arts educator because eventually that is where my thoughts will have to go. Every time I see something changing in the education system I have to think about how it will affect my classroom. The article “Curriculum theory and practice” talks about the four models of curriculum, the first being Curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted. The syllabi shown at the beginning of a class is there to only show part of what our students will be learning, if you were to take an entire year and squish it onto one document it would be more than anyone should be printing all at once. Curriculum not only tells us what our students should be learning but gives us as teachers an extra leg up on our students, because we can give them an assignment without telling them the end goal. Its like hiding the veggies in the Mac and Cheese, in the end they gained something without even realizing it.

The second point being Curriculum as a Product, this is all about measurement. Which is an art teachers worst nightmare, quantifying our students art is our least favourite thing because when doing so you can’t just look at the end product you have to look at the journey as well. How did they get there? How did they get from point A to point B? If we are solely focused on the final product we miss out on the most valuable lesson learned, the journey.

Curriculum as a process is the one that art teachers lean on the most, they rely on the process because it gives them the insight they need to quantify how our students have improved or fallen behind. Though this does not hold true for all subjects, sometimes the most important thing is the end product.If a student is creating a mini scale windmill and they stop at the portion where everything thing looks nice but doesn’t actually work, the final product does not fill the expectations of the project. Yes they have a windmill but half of the process is missing and teachers can’t mark only half the project.

Curriculum as praxis is ,unfortunately, in the world we live in, a pipe dream. It sounds wonderful, teaching only the things you know best and making connections with your students and the information. In which you have created the curriculum and decided the most important parts. It sounds like heaven doesn’t it? A world every teacher dreams of being in, but with the structure of our system and the high demand for certain teachers but not all, we as professionals will usually need to take what we can get, if you want a to be able to at your bills that is. Though even if you were to wait and you get your dream job, schools change every year. I have met enough teacher to fill one hand that can say they have taught the same thing for more the maybe 2 years in a row.

In my own schooling I saw many of these things combined because every teacher find the curriculum different, they have all had different schooling. Different ECS classes, different teaching experiences, so each one is going to pull from what they have learned and use the curriculum in they way that makes the most sense to them. having been in 5 different schools growing up I got to experience constant change in administration and such they ways they want to enforce the curriculum. Having been in 3 different cool divisions I could see how the teachers had to answer to the higher ups.

I believe that if every teacher had to handle to curriculum in a certain way, our schools would be grey. If the art teachers had to teacher to the product our students would lose imagination. If science teachers had to teacher to the process we would lack the skills to finish things.

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Curriculum theory & practice

The article outlines four models of curriculum: curriculum as knowledge that is to be transmitted, curriculum as a product to achieve certain goals and outcomes, curriculum as a process, and curriculum as praxis.

            The first model looks at curriculum as a syllabus that is meant to be delivered to students. Essentially, in this model the teacher is in charge of using a syllabus in which they are to deliver to their students. The problem with this approach, however, is that it is very black and white. The syllabus simply outlines specific themes a teacher is to deliver and that’s that. Kelly (1985:7) claims [primary schools] “have regarded issues of curriculum as no concern to them, since they have not regarded their task as being to transmit bodies of knowledge in this matter”.  Essentially, Kelly is suggesting that teachers do not really need to pay attention to the issues within the curriculum as their job is simply to transmit knowledge using a specific plan.

            The next model looks at curriculum as a process. In this model education is looked at as a technical exercise – clear objectives are set, a plan is created to meet these objectives, the plan is applied, and then the outcome is measured. Ralph W. Tyler (1949) suggested that the purpose of education is not to simply have a teacher at the front of the classroom delivering rigid lectures/lesson plans. Instead, teachers should focus on making changes in students’ behaviours. Taba (1962) suggests the use of a seven-step process to assess these changes: (1) diagnosis of need, (2) formulation of objectives, (3) selection of content, (4) organization of content, (5) selection of learning experiences, (6) organization of learning experiences, and (7) determination of what to evaluate and of the ways/means of doing so.

            There are a number of issues that arise with the use of this model. First, this approach takes away the voice of learners; “they are told what they must learn and how they will do it”. Typically, the plan is in place to be adhered to, which means there is limited opportunity to learn from the things that may/may not happen outside of the plan. This also makes it difficult for teachers to progress their educational paradigm. It makes sense to assume that teachers will not be able to progress as they are limited to a certain set of plans – and that’s it. Secondly, this model suggests that behaviours can be objectively measured. In the educational sense, this is usually a check list of items that lead to a desired outcome. So teachers are to teach X, Y, and Z and then hope their students pass the test on the material. The curriculum is essentially “a set of documents for implementation”. Finally, there is the issue of unanticipated results – it is probably fair to suggest that these, too, can be learning opportunities.

            The third model uses curriculum as a process -it is not so much a physical or tangible thing, but rather, it is in the interaction of teachers and their students. This model is based off a model proposed by Aristotle. First, teachers enter the classroom with the ability to think critically, have an understanding of their roll and the expectations others have of them, and a proposal for action. Using these skills teachers should encourage conversations with their students which should hopefully encourage thought and action. During this process teachers will continuously evaluate. The problem with this approach are the obvious links with the scientific method. This approach [turns] “educational ideas into hypotheses [that are] testable in practice. It involves critical testing rather than acceptance”. (Stenhouse, 1975).

            The fourth and final approach looks at curriculum as praxis. This approach is one of adaptation and modification. Teachers essentially use this approach to learn from what does or does not work in the classroom. Curriculum, according to this model, is an active process. This approach, in my opinion, is where future educators should be focused.

            Looking back to my own experience as a student it is pretty clear that schools were using a more dated method to deliver the curriculum. I think my experience was a mixture of the first and second approaches. From what I remember, my elementary and high school both followed the curriculum pretty rigidly, which I know was no fault of my teachers. The problem, however, is that there are tons of students who do not work well with these methods, myself included. For me it was difficult to sit in my desk, pull information from a textbook, and then write a test on that material later. I do not think it was that I did not know the information, but rather, I just did not take well to testing. Also, coming from a small town it is probably fair to say we did not have the resources as a school like Campbell or Riffel would have. Perhaps my teachers knew there were certain students who needed their delivery of information to be different, however, I understand due to lack of resources that is not always possible. It makes sense to do what will work well for most students when you do not have the resources to help the outliers.

            Since we are all studying to be future educators it is really interesting for me to see the “behind the scenes” of the education system. I wonder if my old teachers learned this stuff too but were stuck using a model they did not adhere to solely because their school(s) told them they had to.


Kelly, A. V. (1985) The Curriculim. Theory and practice 4e, London: Paul Chapman.

Stenhouse, L. (1975) An introduction to Curriculum Research and Development, London: Heineman.

Taba, H. (1962) Curriculum Development: Theory and practice, New York: Harcourt Brace and World.

Tyler, R. W. (1949) Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction, Chicago, University of Chicago   

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The problem with common sense

Essentially, Kumashiro (2009) defines common sense as those ideas that become so routine and common place in a society that they tend to go unquestioned. These supposed-to-be commonplace ideas are generally used to help people shape their ideas about the world, particularly in terms of how things ought to be.

            Using a pedagogical lens, common sense “does not tell us that this is what schools could be doing; it tells us that this and only this is what schools should be doing” (Kumashiro, 2009). “Common sense” ideas in schools could be that students come to class from 9-3pm, show up on time, and essentially do as they’re told – the rules that go without saying. The problem, however, is that the external factors for students (SES, ability/disability, etc.) that may affect their capacity to follow – those seemingly commonsense ideas – might go by the wayside. “Common sense” ideas seem to produce an illusion of normalcy, but these ideas can actually be quite oppressive, especially in the classroom. It might be fair to suggest that teachers are some of the people who need to question and challenge these ideas the most as it is those “common sense” ideas that can and will affect their pedagogy.

            Instead, teachers can challenge these notions by adopting a more anti-oppressive educational paradigm. First, teachers need to focus on improving the experience of those students who fit outside of the norm. Secondly, teachers need to work on changing the knowledge that all students have about those in the world who are labelled as “different”. Teachers must also challenge the invisible dynamics in society that favour certain groups while disadvantaging others; and finally, teachers must address the reasons why anti-oppressive education is often difficult to practice. Of course, this can be challenging because it can be difficult to question and alter your own way of looking at things.

            It is important to pay attention to common sense as those “common sense” ideas only go so far. What is common sense to one group may not be common sense to another. Also, as Kumashiro points out, these commonsense ideas tend to favour one group, while it marginalizes others – those “others” tend to be those who fit outside of what the norm is supposed to be. Teachers need to move toward what will favour all of the diverse students they will teach, and there needs to be a paradigm shift in order to challenge the problem of common sense in the future.

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Smith-Curriculum Theory and Practice

What are the four models of curriculum described in the article and what are the benefits and/or drawbacks of each?

The four models of curriculum described are, “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.”

The “Curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted” syllabus is often straight to the point and includes relevant, important information on them. However, the syllabus doesn’t indicate the importance of the topics or the order that you should study them or any assignment details.

The “Curriculum as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students-product” is beneficial because it’s very organized and easily evaluated in a step by step study process. However, there is no social vision to guide curriculum construction, and the study takes students say/voice away because they are told WHAT they must learn and HOW they will do it.

The “Curriculum as process” is beneficial because it focuses on the interaction between the teachers, students, and knowledge. It doesn’t have a main focus on the outcomes. The drawbacks are that it’s become such a broad, wide term that it’s become interchangeable with ‘education’, and needs to be narrowed down and redefined/refocused.

The “Curriculum as praxis” is beneficial because collective understanding is closely watched, and they can explore praxis with their peers.

What models of curriculum were prominent in your own schooling experience? What did these models make possible/impossible in the classroom?

A model of curriculum that was prominent in my schooling experience was the use of the syllabus, where it would tell us all of the due dates for everything, but it wouldn’t tell us much information about the assignments. We got the assignment outline/plans later in the year when the due date was a little closer. This model made us aware of when something important was coming up and due, but it didn’t really help us out on the actual assignment itself because we didn’t get the assignment details until later in the year. It made it tricky for the kids that like to get a jump start on things, and not have everything “hanging over their heads”.

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