Reading Response 5

Before doing the reading, I had this answer to the question “how do you think that school curricula are developed?”:

I think that a group of people is brought together to discuss what should be included in the curriculum and what shouldn’t be. I think that these people are experts in their subject area and have experience in teaching the subjects they are making the decisions about. I believe that final decisions regarding the content of the curriculum is made democratically through a vote.

After the reading, not surprisingly, my answer changed. While certain elements of what I thought before were true to an extent, I had an overly simplified idea of what actually goes into developing and implementing school curricula.

To begin with, there are many more people involved in curriculum development than I had originally thought, including government officials like the Minister of Education, teachers, curriculum experts, and representatives from universities. In hindsight, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the government is involved (and frankly, it seems very obvious and I’m a bit embarrassed that I hadn’t thought about it). Something that is a bit surprising, however, is that teachers are not considered experts in writing curriculum. I had always had this notion that seeing as teachers use the curriculum to do their job, they should be the ones to physically write it, but the reading made me realize that it isn’t so simple. Teachers all have their own style to teaching, so while a number of teachers might be teaching the exact same thing, they could all teach it in different ways due to differing styles. So, if a group of teachers wrote the curriculum for something like social studies, and they all had similar teaching styles, their styles would be reflected in the curriculum, which would only really be effectively taught by teachers of the same teaching style. The actual curriculum experts are the check and balance to this issue, as they are able to go above individual teaching styles and make curricula that work for all teachers. They work with teachers and government officials to create a curriculum that suits everyone. One final thing that I find interesting about the groups involved in making curriculum was the fact that university representatives are present. It makes a lot of sense to me as high schools are basically just prep for furthering one’s education.

The process of developing and implementing curricula seems pretty simple at face value. Groups of people (as described above) get together, discuss what’s going to be in the curriculum, physically write the curriculum, and send out a pilot version to a school or school division before it is implemented province-wide. As simple as this seems, it is actually very complicated and multi-layered. While teachers may make up a large portion of the people who advise on the curriculum, they do not have anything to do with how it is written. The writing of the curriculum is usually up to experts hired by the government for that sole purpose. The fact that the government is in control of who gets to write the curriculum gives it a lot of power and influence over what actually goes into it (I’d argue that they have the most influence). I’m a bit surprise and concerned by this for the sole fact that the government always has some sort of agenda with whatever they do. This means that for the most part that what goes into the curriculum depends mostly on the goals of the specific government at the time, so if they want to focus on improving math curricula over art, they will. Also, if they want to focus on a specific type of math over another for a particular reason (because the tech industry is putting pressure on the government to teach a certain type of math, for example), they will.

In general, I am mostly surprised by how complicated this whole process is. At face value it seems like such a simple thing, but because of the various groups involved and their own agendas and desires, the process is highly politicized which in turn makes it complicated.

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