In the article Curriculum Policy and the Politics of What Should Be Learned in Schools by Ben Levin, he outlines what it takes to create policies and then he connects them to curricular values. There are many factors that take place as to how curriculum comes to be including political climate, who is creating the curriculum, accessibility, region and what the public feels is important. There are two parts of curriculum that are under debate: what takes precedence in the curriculum and what topics should be taught under each subject (14). With each change that is considered to be added to or taken away from curriculum, the public scrutinizes it (regardless as to whether or not they have expertise on the topic) (13). Some school curriculums are put together by experts in each topic. The criticism towards a curriculum put together in this way is that it makes it inaccessible to anyone who is not an expert in the field (17).
My brain works really well with metaphors. When I take foreign knowledge and relate it to something familiar, I feel as though I have a firmer grasp on the concept. The metaphor that came to mind while I was reading this article is that the curriculum is similar to one of the cooking shows where all of the ingredients are given to the chef and they need to create something from it. Sometimes there are completely random ingredients or sometimes the ingredients are super-specific and there is very little creativity in what you can make out of it. I don’t know who chooses these ingredients either. Maybe it’s some show producer who knows nothing about cooking but assumes that a true chef can make these ingredients something wonderful. Or maybe it’s a team of seasoned cooks who know really well what dishes can be made from these ingredients. Nonetheless, there is also an element of how the chef interprets the ingredients which determine the final product. Not only that but there are judges watching the chef create this product. Often on these shows, there are seasoned judges who are experts in their trade and sometimes there are celebrity judges who have no experience with cooking at this level but have a palate and that’s all that is needed to qualify them. Nonetheless, the chef must also strive to make these judges happy.
That is the best way for me to describe what I understood from this article. On paper, curriculum-making is messy and it shouldn’t necessarily work. It’s full of different elements, time crunches and expertise levels. On all levels, there are different amounts of consideration being put in. The ingredients of the curriculum are chosen by experts who have knowledge in relevant fields to teaching but there are also politicians and parents who are trying to choose the elements to the curriculum. Sometimes the curriculum is extremely specific and not really up to interpretation and other times it can be vague and left up to the chef what they do. There are pressures put on the chef just like there are pressures put on front-line educators to deliver in an attractive and timely manner. It is expected to suit each taster’s palate as well. How the teacher sees the curriculum also affects the final product. A good curriculum like a good meal should be able to adapt to each person. Even though I may really like citrus, that doesn’t mean that you like citrus. Finally, the people who experience the final product have differing tastes, worldviews, experiences and needs. There are many critics and each one has varying levels of understanding of what is happening in the curriculum. All of this information is on some level, new to me because although I have been interacting with the curriculum since pre-k, I have not been aware of it until recently. It both scares me and reassures me that we teeter on the edge of curriculum doing great things for society and also creating really big problems for the future. It both takes all of the ownership off of me to be perfect and yet, it requires me to put a lot of thought and energy into this profession.
After reading the first article, I read the second one which is a few pages from Saskatchewan’s Treaty Ed Outcome and Indicators. This portion of curriculum must have been very controversial to do because there is so much debate regarding Indigenous History – in my opinion, it’s because of the deep-seated racism that surrounds settler-Canadians towards Indigenous Peoples. The other controversy is that having Indigenous history and worldviews be its own category, it infers that Treaty ed is separate to all of the other “important subjects” or that it on its own is other. Also, there are so many different Indigenous worldviews depending on history and tribe that I wonder how they decided what gets put in. I also think that it is susceptible to the teacher disregarding its importance. However, the people who created the curriculum were all experts on Indigenous affairs (some are Elders, some have studies from First Nations Universities, some are on tribal councils etc.). This means that the information has been taken with the same consideration as the other subjects which is really good and helpful as well.