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A Journey Through Curriculum

My initial thoughts about curriculum were minimal as I began this course. I interpreted

curriculum very simply, something that was provided to you by your district and it was your job

to implement. I did not attribute any particular pedagogy to curriculum implementation. In our

first response paper, we compared two early theorists. I selected Maria Montessori and Herbert

Kliebard. I selected Maria Montessori based on my familiarity with her work in early childhood

and my current position as an early childhood special education teacher. I also selected

Montessori because I identify with her ideas of a child-driven curriculum and arranging the

environment in order to support a childs exploration. I selected Kliebard as a contrast to

Montessori due to the opposite points of view. I felt in particular, that the two theorists views of

the role of the student in the curriculum was of the greatest differences.

I began response paper #1 by describing the different views of the student within the two

theorists views. Maria Montessori placed a significant importance on the students role in

curriculum. She strived to highlight the importance of respecting the individuality of each

student. Instead of looking for shortcomings of knowledge in a student, Montessori approaches

curriculum from a student centered point of view, allowing the student to guide the curriculum

and progress through stages at his or her own pace. Montessori used the power of observation

to determine the progress and direction of students rather than formal assessments. Students

also demonstrated their understanding of concepts through instruction and presentation to other

students or teachers. Within the Montessori approach, more knowledge and insight are gained

by the student through the process of exploration, observation and construction and not just the

gaining of factual information. Montessori uses developmental milestones and goals as

guideposts rather than objectives to be mastered.

In contrast, Kliebard highlights the ideas of Bobbit and Bode in the Scientific view of

curriculum. In the Scientific view, curriculum is viewed as a means to an end. It is centered on

the shortcomings of a students knowledge and seeks to deliver the information to alleviate those

shortcomings. The scientific view sees curriculum as something to be delivered by the teacher

and received by the student. The scientific view does not take into account the student and what

their interests or strengths lie. It does not consider the individuality of the child because it views

curriculum as preparation for adult life. The scientific view also highlights the importance of

having specific objectives within the curriculum in an effort to deliver unknown information or


As I stated in the introduction, when I began this course I had a very simple interpretation

of curriculum. In fact, Im not sure I would ever refer to it as an interpretation but more like a

definition. After reading and progressing through various theorists and movements, I have

begun to see curriculum as an evolutionary and complex process within education. The overall

consideration of the role of learner and of the teacher is one of the more significant

considerations for myself. I come from a generation of education of teacher centered, delivery of

information and I see the value in learning specific sets of skills. Now as a teacher, I see our

curriculum morphing and evolving to allow the student a more significant role regarding

curriculum and a focus on the process of learning over the product. I have two questions that I

feel help to revise the interpretation of curriculum. How do you define education? What is

educations purpose? I feel these two questions are the basis of curriculum foundation. Much

like the scientific view, I feel the definition & purpose of education can create drastic differences

in the purpose that curriculum serves within.

Part II
In response paper #2, I discussed the influence of politics on education and its

curriculum. I begin by discussing the issues of accountability and how those in political offices

are making tie much of their decision making and political stance to test scores. Often, funding

for schools is also tied to the assessments. These funding formulas and assessment based

decisions are frequently made by systems or people who are without any educational experience.

Politicians want to use education as a stance in their influence.

Wyane Aus study simply strengthened my views regarding high stakes testing and the

issues of accountability. Aus study seems to show that testing controls education by narrowing

curriculum to tested subjects, fragmenting knowledge and affecting educators pedagogy. Au

cites Burch and Wopmann, in showing direct links between policy-makers intentions and high

stakes testing. (Flinders, et al, 2013. P. 242-247)

I go on to discuss how politics plays an influence in the selection of curriculum materials

and delivery. For example, as I finish this paper today, the US Department of Justice has sent a

letter to every public school outlining their responsibility to comply with Title IX by

accommodating students who identify as transgender to utilize the bathroom/locker room with

which they best identify. This letter reminds public schools As a condition of receiving Federal

funds, a school agrees that it will not exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat

differently on the basis of sex any person in its educational programs or activities unless

expressly authorized to do so under Title IX or its implementing regulations. This is a glaring

example of political influence and more. While I understand what the government is stating that

this is what they recognize under Title IX and as recipients of title IX funding, schools are

therefore obligated to comply, the government is attempting to stipulate the local school climate

by tying funding to this issue. While this may be a legitimate claim by the federal government, I
find it highly unlikely that many schools will regard it as anything but a threat. (Lhamon, C. &

Gupta, V. Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students. US Department of Justice. May 13,


Part III

As I have progressed through this course, I have found myself analyzing my own views

of curriculum and attempting to form my own views regarding several standpoints. I realize that

I favor a student guided curriculum but need further development in how to implement and

utilize such strategies. Montessori refers to the need for teachers to take an interest in natural

phenomena (Flinders, et al, 2013. P. 23). I am reminded of this daily by my students who are

fascinated by all things in nature. Our school is brand new and state of the art, specially

designed for early childhood, but despite the incredible playground at their disposal, my students

still enjoy picking flowers, finding bugs, watching birds and observing clouds just as much. It is

this freedom to explore their interests and flourish from those interests that draws me to

Montessori. Even though I teach early childhood special education right now, I have always

been disturbed by the pace with which students must progress through school. In an ideal

setting, I would see students having the opportunity to progress free of time constraints and

pacing charts. I would love to see students have the opportunity to stop and explore a concept

further when it piqued their interest. In an ideal setting, I would prefer for students to be

assessed through a variety of methods, not just assessments. Education as a whole attempts to

address that somewhat with differentiation but it still seems sporadic in implementation. In

education today, I feel that time is always against us.

When I began pursuing education, I interpreted curriculum as the delivery of unknown

information to students. Much like Bobbit, I interpreted it as preparation for adult life. I
described curriculum as a set of skills that a student would need to successful outside of school.

Bobbit referred to this as directed training (Flinders, 2013. P. 13). While I do still believe this

to an extent, it is the type of skills and the type of preparation that has altered. I know that I am

very much against standardized assessments. The more I learn about them the less good I feel

that can come of them. I am disturbed by the fact that with so much local and state control that

our systems are unable to account for a students progress beyond an exam. At the end of the

day, it seems that assessments are the easiest way to show the results of money invested. I

initially also thought that if schools were run like businesses they would be more effective. I

could be in favor or against this now . In some ways, I feel schools like a business would be

more effective, such as accountability through rewarding teacher effectiveness through bonuses

or pay raises. However, that ties right back to performance and then to accountability and how

can this be measured, creating a rather vicious circle.

It is important though to decipher this information and interprets education theory for

yourself as an educator though. When you know how you best identify, it is easier to identify

strengths and weaknesses in your career. Identifying your stance within curriculum can make

you a stronger implementer and developer of curriculum. Within education we are no strangers

to change, so when your school district changes curriculums yet again, you are better able to

adapt to the changes and interpret it for yourself.