What is curriculum? After reading all the different views and materials we had for this week, I did not realize how big of a struggle it was to define only one true definition of curriculum. When I first learned about what curriculum was I personally thought it was the subjects a school taught in their building and what resources, including programs, they used to make sure those subjects were taught accordingly. Looking back at my first year of teaching and what I read in the text, I agree with Ornstein & Hunkins (2009) when he mentioned that the design of curriculum a school has is based upon their view of curriculum itself.
As an educator I believe that curriculum and how it should be implemented in ones classroom, is different between experienced educators and teachers who are new to the game. Curriculum reminds me of Mongolian Barbecue. Anyone who has ever been to this restaurant knows that they can choose as many ingredients they want to eat, as long as it fits into the bowl. The ingredients fit their appetite and their liking. If you try something at Mongolian Barbecue and do not like it, you can get another bowl and start all over, or just change some items out. I take the same approach to curriculum. Every school has a goal to succeed academically, to get the highest ranking possible for their school. How their curriculum is set, is a huge part of a schools academic success. Schools start out with a particular theory whether its based upon having administrative creating the curriculum or letting students and parents be apart of the process. Some schools have certain curriculum’s and resources that help guide their academics. If a certain part of their curriculum is not working, they can replace it with something new.
Professionally I believe curriculum is a mixer of the humanistic approach and the managerial approach. I have had experience with both types of curriculum and think they both need each other. I believe having teachers and an administrator or academic advisor create curriculum based upon state standards is a part of being successful. In the article about the questions of curriculum Reid (1999) proposes five questions about curriculum. Those five questions had me thinking about schools that have educators drive their instruction based upon the student’s interests. Will the end of the school year goal be met and will those students be taught everything they need for that grade level? I think the answer is no, what do you think?
Many have heard the stories about teachers complaining about teaching to the test and not having time to be creative, but there can be a way to set up ones curriculum and integrate the creative, engaging part with it. Currently at my job, we use the data from the previous states test score to learn what areas students struggle with as a whole, based upon each standard. We use that information to drive our curriculum map. I view curriculum as what subjects a teacher will teach and the “content” one will cover within each subject. By using the data, a group of educators who have a good understanding of the state standards or the grade level content can map out what to teach and when to not only make sure they are covering the struggling areas they saw from the data but also make sure they are covering everything each student should know in that grade level.
Ornstein & Hunkins (2009) argue that not everything that goes on in school can or should be discussed in terms of curriculum. Even though this is true, I believe there is a way that educators can create life situation type of activities or discussions and integrate it with the curriculum content set for one’s school. I always wonder how students can learn everyday and understand the content completely, if the content is not related to real life situations. Curriculum to me is set to hold the educator accountable for teaching content or at least making sure some learning is going on. It’s up to the educator to think of creative ways and pull out the real life applications and experiences to make the content real for the student.
Let’s be real….learning is not exciting and may not stick with students if they cannot apply it to their own life, their own experiences. It is our duty as educators to equipped students with the knowledge to prepare them for the future and that includes showing students how the content they are learning in school, is not just to pass a state test, it is also important for them to learn and adapt to their real lives. Ornstein & Hunkins (2009) mentions that curriculum affects teachers, students and the community. Curriculum should be structured by content but also be designed to Ornstein & Hunkins (2009) help children achieve self-realization through active participation within the school. My philosophy on what curriculum is includes educators teaching students all the content that is listed in the academic standards and make sure teachers connect the content to real life applications and learning experiences.
Ornstein, A, & Hunkins, F. (2009). Curriculum: foundations, principles, and issues. Boston, MA: Pearson.
Reid, W.A. (1999). Curriculum as institution and practice: Essays in the deliberative tradition. Mahwah, NJ:Erlbaum.