Human Complexity and the Development of Curriculum

Photo by Tony Gonda (used with permission). A Yukon dandelion going to seed, in front of a flowering dandelion. There are layers, complexities and stages in flowers, just as there are in curriculum policy and its processes of development.

The process of developing curriculum is more much complicated than it initially appears. Many considerations – ideology, values, public issues and interests – shape the direction of curriculum development.

To understand how curriculum exists in its present state, we must look to the past, and understand its various stages of development to arrive at its present point.

A lengthy process may be involved in the development of the curriculum. For new ideas to arise, shape society, stir social change as well as social unrest with the status quo of learning, all involve the considerable passage of time.

Within this, humans have complex and varying beliefs about the world, which direction we are heading, which direction we “ought” to go, and where our energies are most needed. The discussion of these, and the debate, and who even ought to be the head of these decisions shape our politics.

To teach a child a certain set of ideas is to prepare them or equip them with specific knowledge and tools. Their ways of being will shape the future world.  Our children are our future, and yet our visions of the future are variable. As people, they are free agents, but so much of what we teach them shapes who they become.

While progression is ideal, necessary and valuable, one must not forget that the slow movement of change allows people time to come together and, most ideally, for democratic processes to occur. Democracy allows for many voices to shape the path forward, which prevents the kind of fast-moving change that can be difficult to sustain.

New curriculum forms, as the world we live in changes, and educators and their stakeholders gather to incrementally shift the guiding documents, to match the path most suitable for the best-agreed upon future ideals of the world – to try to help shape the unknown.

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