Basic Education Curriculum Essay

Reaction Paper Chapters 1-4 Thinking about curriculum is an old thinking about education; it is difficult to imagine any inquiry into the nature of education without deliberate attention to the question of what should be taught. The question of what to teach and how to teach it involves a selection from a vast array of knowledge and beliefs within a culture. Since it is impossible to teach everything, that selection from the culture reflects in part some sense of what is most worthwhile in that culture as seen in relation to the kind of institution the school is and what it can reasonably accomplish.

According to Dewey (1916) education is “a continuous lifelong process which had no ends beyond itself but is its own end” (p. 50). Within learning organizations, Senge (1990) stated that “humane, sensitive and thoughtful leaders transmit their value system through daily behavior” (p. 191). Bolman and Deal (2003) developed a unique situational leadership theory that analyzes leadership behavior through four frames of reference: structural, human resources, political and symbolic. Each of the frames offers a different perspective on what leadership is and how it operates in organizations; and in this case, schools.

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These frames are maps that aid navigation, tools for solving problems and getting things done” (p. 18). Leaders need to understand their own frame preference and its limits and ideally, combine multiple frames to gain “clarity, generating new options, and finding strategies that work” (p. 19). As in all organizations, schools need leaders who can impart a persuasive and durable sense of purpose and direction. In the area of curriculum design and planning, educational researchers shared values (Deal & Peterson 1991), and tacit knowledge about what “should be (Erickson 1987) as a defining aspect of school culture.

Values are often ‘espoused’ as opposed to “in-use’, that is, what people say should and ought to be is often inconsistent with their actual behavior (Argyris and Schon, 1974). Schein (1992) said that one must look deeper than values to find the essence of a culture. Values, enduring beliefs or tendencies to prefer certain modes of conduct or state of affairs over others are often viewed as the most articulated component of culture (Rokeah, 1973). Values define a standard of goodness, quality and an excellence that undergirds behavior and decision making and what people care about (Ott, 1989).

Values are not simply goals or outcomes, values are deeper sense of what is important. Deal and Peterson (1999) posited that values focus attention and define success (p. 26). Given the moral pluralism of today’s society, moral discipline closely related to intellectual values is important. The goals of academic excellence and value-centeredness need to be operational in the education we offer. Social forces that can influence curriculum planning can come from far and wide.

The ideas and values of various groups of people include their social goals, ideas about cultural uniformity and diversity, social pleasures, ideas about social change, their plans for the future and their concept of culture. Educational decision making as it relates to the school’s mission is important. For example, various groups may attempt to influence educational policy and therefore curriculum t better meet the needs of children in urban environments and on the other hand, a group may be trying to do the same for rural children.

This illustrates how social forces, issues and values can influence curriculum design. Doll (1996) stated that there tends to be a crisis in current social forces and cultures: economic, political and standards funding as well as technology, special needs, ethnic diversity and mobility issues These rapidly changing demographic factors call for self directed curriculum planners who show responsibility for their local and world communities.

Global perspectives and understanding, the ability to communicate clearly and the ability to relate well interpersonally are critical in a multicultural society and a technology- orientated world market. Curricula for the future emphasize the learner’s development as much as the content to be learned. Critical and creative thinking serve as the point and counterpoint as students construct knowledge using multiple perspectives, talents, modalities and mediums.

Curriculum planners must ask themselves what skills; knowledge, attitudes and abilities must students possess to operate successfully in the 21st century. Some curricula draw lessons from the past and all curricula prepare students for the future. To successfully prepare student to live and work within globally networked systems, curriculum developers must listen to business and economic futurists. Technology, economic competitiveness and increasing global interaction are shaping the direction of education in America.

Curriculum and instruction are heavily weighted with innovation, In deciding how to proceed, curriculum planners need to weigh today’s educational needs against past practices and their beliefs about teaching and learning for the future. Throughout our lives, in the various stages of development, we experience change in our behavior, feelings, attitudes, thoughts, values, etc. Many of these changes are highly individual and can be a response to life events to a simple unfolding of our unique characteristics.

Nonetheless, there are regular and predictable physical, mental and social changes that most people undergo in some way. Part of our life is determined by biological heritage (nature) while part is due to environment (nurture). The interplay of these has been studied by developmental psychologists and three have become legendary in the fields of development: Piaget (cognitive), Kohlberg (moral) and Erickson (identity). Like Piaget, Erickson came to the conclusion that children should not be rushed in their development, that each developmental phase was important and should be allowed time to full unfold.

Kohlberg followed the development of moral judgment beyond the stages studied by Piaget, who said that logic and morality develop through constructive stages. Kohlberg determined that moral development continues through the person’s lifespan. Curriculum is no longer a simple matter of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Today, curriculum includes what students can do with the content and how well they think, problem solve and work as a member of a team.

Instruction goes beyond isolated memory drill to helping students synthesize information to gain a deeper understanding of concepts and generalization that will have lasting value as they structure knowledge and interpret their world. It appears that the current trend in education is to balance the essential and lasting learning of critical content with student process, or performance outcomes, and to bring focus, relevance and meaning to educational problems.

Educators are concerned with developing the abilities of ever child to handle the most amount of information coming from many sources. In order to accomplish this, educator’s look at the learners learning style; the approaches to learning which are visual, auditory, or tactile. This combined with acknowledging the seven multiple intelligences, conceived by Gardner, assist in developing strategies to compensate for weaknesses and capitalize on learning strengths.

Curriculum mapping focuses on communication, curricular dialogue and coherency. It emphasizes the requisite that teachers and administrators focus on the balance between what really took place in individual classrooms with what was planned. Jacobs (1997) stated that to “make sense of our students’ experiences over time, we need two lenses: a zoom lens into this year’s curriculum for a particular grade and a wide-angle lens to see the K-12 perspective. The classroom (micro) level is dependent on the site and district level (macro) (p. 3). ”

The New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards describe what students should know and be able to do in line academic areas. These standards are broad outcome statements that provide the framework for strands and cumulative progress indicators (CPI’s). They work with precision the results expected of all students (but do they take into consideration learning styles and MI’s or developmental readiness issues) and they serve as a banner behind which all segments of the education community and the state at large can mobilize to reshape our approach to education (p. ii). These standards include curriculum development and alignment, policy development, student assessment and research based practices. It must be noted that these standards are “not a statewide curriculum, but define the results expected but do not limit district strategies for how to ensure that students achieve these expectations” (p. 1). When curriculum mapping is applied to the content standards it enables educators to view in a concrete manner, subject areas that need change.

In chapters 1-4 in Curriculum Planning, it appears that like any other organization, the school is a place of power, structure, logic and values which, when combined, exert a strong influence on the way students perceive the world, interpret it and respond to it. Educational leaders need to have a vision (the end state) of where we want to go with schools. What should and could the school be? The readings contained in these chapters challenge educators to clarify what we think, to ponder what is read, question it, and challenge it.

We need to ask ourselves and discuss with others (as in class) how the vision fits into the realities of school today as well as in the future. Curriculum Development When we think about teaching we should talk about curriculum and for this we need to know the definition of the word and it is defined by John Kerr as “all the learning which is planned and guided by the school, whether it is carried on in groups or individually, inside or outside the school”.

The career of teaching implies very important aspects, but the main one is working on curricula if we want our students to reach the learning process in the best way, and to accomplish it, we must take into account so many aspects but some of them are the importance of knowing our students, writing accurate objectives and also planning the class. The only way to get familiar with the students is by knowing them. If we know their likes and dislikes, their strength and their weakness, we can use it to help them understand what is difficult to them and also to get profit of subjects that are not a problem to them.

Another aspect is being informed of the environment in which they live. This is something that not every teacher takes into consideration, but it is essential. For instance, when we are planning the homework that we are going to assign them, we should think if the students are going to be able to do it or not, if they can get the materials, the sources and even the technological equipment if they will need it. Although this is not directly related with the development of curricula, I personally believe that if we as teachers know our students the most, the results are going to be better than the ones that we’ll get if we ust teach. By the moment in which we start at planning the lesson, the first step to do is writing the objectives, and to do this in the right way, we need to study very well which is exactly the objective that we need according to the method, the topic and the goal that we want the students to accomplish. The objectives are classified into learning outcomes and the learning outcomes are divided into three categories, cognitive, psychomotor and affective.

The cognitive includes the objectives related to knowledge, which are the most commonly used by teachers, and useful tool to apply to use these objectives is the Bloom’s Taxonomy which is a method of classification on differing levels of higher order thinking, and it classifies the process of learning in six levels, for example some verbs to use in the objective if we want the student to apply something are make and use. The psychomotor includes objectives that require basic motor skills and/or physical movement such as construct.

Finally, the affective domain includes objectives pertaining to attitudes, appreciations, values and emotions. In fact being a teacher implies analyzing everything specially related with curricula. If we pay special attention to the tasks when we are planning even though all the time that we need to expend to work in that, such as warm up, objectives, activities, vocabulary, materials, skills, strategies and assessment, we can be almost sure that we will get good results.

However these results not only depend on our work when planning and when teaching the class, because the students are the ones who decides if they learn or not, and to achieve this we need to get their interest which is very important and we can do it by applying the warm up in the right way. As a conclusion, all the subjects related with curriculum development are going to be in our everyday as future professionals in teaching. That? s why it is very important for us to involve with the issues related with the teaching career since we are going to be dealing with objectives, students, and lesson plans.

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