Defining and understanding the many parts and perspectives of curriculum is, as pointed out by Ornstein and Hunkins (2013), daunting and not clearly defined (p. 1). While many try, there does not appear to be just one definition. Our reading refers to curriculum as both a noun and a verb. Simply put curriculum is both the knowledge teachers present and the ways in which it is conveyed. However, according to Orestien and Hunkins (2013), there are more definitions lending to the complexity of curriculum (p. 8).
No Child Left Behind has sent a message to today’s educators of low expectations. A message that all students must meet a minimum level sets low standards and places the focus of education on finding a way to helping low achieving students meet a minimal expectation. Many of today’s educators are under so much pressure to make sure all their students meet the low bar set by NCLB that enrichment, critical thinking, and raising the bar are long lost ideas. An educator’s goal should be that all students show a year’s gain in a school year. In classrooms, teachers should strive to provide students with a variety of ways to learn the material and assess their growth in multiple ways. While it means additional work for the teacher and guide, it allows for an open, collaborative classroom that best meets the needs of all students. Curriculum is set to help all students achieve at a higher level with ample opportunity for further exploration of the material using rubrics and open-ended projects.
Curriculum should allow students choice, variety, and incorporate creative and critical thought in order to promote individual growth. Although educators teach a class of students, it is critical to address the needs of each learner. This is often referred to as “meeting a student where he or she is.” As the guide on the side, a teacher must provide students with a variety of resources and allow them to discover some on their own. This will allow for the the creation of knowledge rather than students just being spoon-fed the facts.Today’s students are growing up in a world of knowledge creation and should be practicing these skills beginning at an early age. Doing otherwise is a disservice to students, their futures, and society. Students show increased motivation when they are presented with choices. Including students in the process of creating choices and setting goals helps increase motivation and should be used as appropriate. Today’s students are uniquely positioned with the world at their fingertips. If is vital they learn how to process information, discuss issues, and be able to communicate new ideas.
With a varying abilities and learning styles in our nation’s classrooms, students should be provided with a variety of learning opportunities in order for students to experience success. Each student has something valuable to add to the classroom and avenues of expression should be provided to all students. A classroom should be a safe haven for students to learn and to express themselves as individuals.
Many ideologies and curriculum theories are presented in our reading. It seems this philosophy most closely aligns with Rational Humanism as presented by Elsner. Students are capable of making good decisions and critically evaluating information. Through practice students can hone their critical thinking skills and become creators of knowledge rather than just consumers.
Elsner, E. (2001). The Educational Imagination: On the Design and Evaluation of School Programs. Prentice Hall.
Ornstein, A. & Hunkins, F. (2013). Curriculum:Foundations, Principles, and Issues (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.