Questions and Implementing the Curriculum

Big Questions

Big Questions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)





Of late, I am very keen on considering the questions and language that we use when implementing and designing the curriculum. Questioning the curriculum itself, in addition to being aware of our questions that we put forth for our students to learn with, is important.

When developing and designing my curriculum, I always start with the questions:

  • How will students see themselves reflected in their learning?
  • How will I help craft inquiries to promote student innovation and reflection?

I also want to ask these questions to be culturally relevant, and give opportunities for First Nations, Metis & Inuit perspectives to arise in my learning environments. When we omit First Nation, Metis & Inuit perspectives from the curriculum, there are real implications for society. 

Questioning the curriculum is also important. There are real implications for society when put the absolute authority in our curriculum and do not question the norms, skills and knowledge therein. When we look at the curriculum as the blueprint for achievement that is restricted to the objectives of the school, and we do not question the blueprints, then we are at risk of omitting valuable cultures and experiences, norms, knowledge and skills.To this end, curriculum is not just what we teach, but also what we do not teach.

The personal and social aspects of the curriculum paramount if our goals are to help students become self-reflective and self-actualized learners. We do this by incorporating the:

  • Arts – Music, Drama, etc.
  • Physical Education
  • Centers
  • Collaborative small group work
  • Talking Circles
  • Holistic teaching practices that include Medicine Wheel Teachings
  • Field trips
  • Project based learning opportunities
  • Inquiry based learning opportunities

All of these activities provide valuable information and help inform educators as to the culturally relevant methods and knowledge that are relevant to the specific learning environment. It is also valuable to help students apply the curriculum expectations within the contexts of their own realities, and engage in creative problem solving.

This however is at odds with the pressures and messages for academic excellence on our standardized tests. Therefore, I find myself in a balancing act of amalgamating different definitions and foundations of curriculum to be successful not just for my students, but also for other education stakeholders. Which is important in a globalized society.

How we plan our curriculum, and the questions we ask will determine ultimately how we achieve our goals. Regardless of how innovative we want to get, we still need to have a basic sequence of steps including:

  • Purpose
  • Design
  • Implementation, and
  • Assessment

From these steps flows the important questions that we need to ask, that will ultimately affect the discussions, answers and output that we receive from our learners.

Therefore, we need to think about the language that we use, and the questions that we need to ask.

We can also ask questions that extend beyond the ‘what’ that we teach, toward the questions about the ‘how’ we should teach.

When we mix our questions within a very fast paced globalized society with rapidly evolving technologies, the questions we ask become even more important. We now need questions that motivate students to move beyond regurgitating knowledge toward applying the knowledge in creative ways and engage in creative problem solving. We need questions that are culturally relevant and lead to culturally relevant student learning.

Also, depending on our own personal philosophies and views of education, the questions we ask can position us as experts, or as facilitators for the students.This will in turn determine whether we can be culturally relevant and honour the unique differences of our students.

Ultimately, I think flexibility and openness to asking questions about curriculum trends and thoughts is essential for us to be able to genuinely consider the demands of the local community and globalization, and on the goals of the school and school board.

What questions do you have?

Deborah McCallum

Copyright, 2015

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