Curriculum as Process #1

Kumashiro (2009) defines “common sense does not tell us that this is what schools could be doing; it tells us that this and only this is what schools should be doing” (p. XXXV). It is important that we pay attention to ‘common sense’ because it will vary depending on the values and perspectives that are associated with cultures. Kumashiro (2009) goes on to talk about how it is important that “common sense is not what should shape educational reform or curriculum design; it is what needs to be examined and challenged” (p. XXXVI). Educators need to be prepared to examine the curriculum and ensure that the ‘common sense’ is not oppressing the students that are trying to engage with it.

Kumashiro (2009) stated that the type of curriculum model that they encountered in Nepal was a “lecture-practice-exam approach” (p. XXXI). They went on to state that students came to expect that teachers would teach concepts straight from the required textbooks because all the final exams were based off the problems that were in the textbook. Also, Kumashiro (2009) suggested that it was common sense for students to learn this way and that they often asked to be taught concepts and problems from the textbook rather than problems that were created.

In Canada, it is common sense that curriculum is seen as a product. Smith (2000) states, “objectives are set, a plan drawn up, then applied, and the outcomes (products) measured” (p. 2). The benefits of this model are that it “provides and clear notion of outcome so that content and method may be organize and the results evaluated” (Smith, 2000, p. 3). I grew up with this model and I believe that it will be in place until post-secondary institutions change their acceptance requirements. Lots of post-secondary schools admit students strictly based on grade point average (GPA); thus, it is common sense for students to want to learn concepts that they are going to be tested on so that they can ultimately do their best on the exams. Smith (2000) argues that there are clear limitations with this model, such as: the plan or programme assumes great importance, there are questions around the nature of objectives, lack of impact on actual pedagogic practice of objectives and the problem with unanticipated results. Many of these concerns that Smith addresses I have witnessed in my education journey. For instance, I have overheard teachers stressing about not having enough time to “complete all the required outcomes of the curriculum”. Therefore, lots of these teachers have chosen to rush through concepts so that they can complete their required checklist of outcomes that were established by their province. This has a negative impact on the students because if they need additional support or time in certain areas they will not receive it because other outcomes need to be met.

4 thoughts on “Curriculum as Process #1

  1. Travis – thanks for this detailed response. You do a great job of bringing in quotes from the readings to support your arguments.

    You note that Kumashiro witnessed the lecture-practice-exam approach in Nepal – which of the four curriculum models do you see here?

    I agree that the product model is quite prevalent in Canada, and this can lead to tensions between (as you identified) teachers rushing to “get through the curriculum” and teachers trying to provide an engaging learning experience (a more process-based model). I do wonder what it will take to change the way that post-secondary institutions admit their students… perhaps this could be a positive outcome of the pandemic – that universities must reevaluate entrance criteria because of disrupted school years…

    1. Katia,

      I model that I see here is curriculum as a product. The reason I think it is this is because every teacher is expected to teach the same concepts in the same way.

      I’m also wondering what types of modifications post-secondary institutions will have when it comes to entrance criteria. It has been interesting watching institutions shift the majority of their classes to digital learning. Will classes continue to stay online after this pandemic is gone? Will students have a blended learning option? Will teachers have an option to offer classes online rather than face-to-face?

  2. Travis,
    I really like your article. Do you think that you’ll take some of the learnings Kimashiro experienced in your own teaching?

  3. Travis,
    I really appreciated your comment on the post-secondary university letting students in based on their GPA. This can make things really tough for students who learn differently and may achieve grades in a different way. This related well to Kumashiro’s experience when he was was in Nepal as the students were expected to just do their work and get a grade and they thought it was funny when encouraged to complete other works. I thought your criticism on the Canadian education system was very appropriate and challenged my approach in the classroom.

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