What Should Students Know and Be Able to Do?
Recently, Education Week posted an online article written by Catherine Gewertz. 'Currriculum' Definition Raises Red Flags is one of the most thought-provoking articles that I have read on the topic of the Common Core State Standards and the debate about what every student should know and be able to do. Teachers around the world constantly struggle with curriculum development and debate who should determine curriculum. New schools have been created due to the fact that the adults in the community or the teachers within the school seek a new type of curriculum for students. Gewertz interviewed several curriculum consultants, leading education organizations, and state department of education officials about their definition of 'curriculum.'
Curriculum is a difficult term to define. For some educators, curriculum is viewed as the unit plan, the textbook, local curriculum documents or state standards. According to Walker & Soltis (1992), "no substantial agreement exists among philosophers, the public, or educators on what should be the aims of a general education for all" (p. 79).
What are your thoughts on Gewertz's article? What is your definition of curriculum? Do you think that the Common Core State Standards are the curriculum or do you believe there is a distinct difference between standards and curriculum? Who should unpack standards (a company/vendor, the State Department of Education, the Director of Secondary Instruction, or a team of teachers)?
Select one of the quotes below and share your thoughts. Do you agree or disagree with this perspective? How do you determine curriculum in your school?
Curriculum: Multiple Perspectives
According to Fenwick English (2000), "Curriculum is any document that exists in a school that defines the work of teachers by identifying the content to be taught and the methods to be used" (p.2).
"Curriculum for school districts is no longer 'just nice to have.' Curriculum is a necessity for furthering student achievement. Further, school districts through their curricula, have the tools at their disposal to control and ensure what students learn" (Squires, 2009, p. 133).
"Curriculum development is the essential function of school leadership. Whether the role is carried out by a principal, an assistant principal for curriculum, a team leader, a department head, or by leading classroom teachers, the curriculum defines all other roles in a school" (Wiles, 2009, p.2).
"If the hypothesis.....introduced is true - that any subject can be taught to any child in some honest form - then it should follow that a curriculum ought to be built around the great issues, principles, and values that a society deems worthy of the continual concern of its members" (Bruner, 1960).
"Academic standards are not a curriculum; they are a framework for designing curriculum. A curriculum is a coherent, teacher-friendly document that reflects the intent of the academic standards" (Erickson, 2007, p. 48).
"When school staff have a more informed conception of curriculum, a teacher's daily decisions about how to deliver instruction not only affect student achievement in that classroom but also future student achievement, for it is assumed that students will be entering the next classroom prepared to handle a more sophisticated or more expanisve level of work" (Zmuda, Kuklis & Kline, 2004, p. 122).
"Curriculum design and delivery face one fundamental problem in schools. When the door is shut and nobody else is around, the classroom teacher can select and teach just about any curriculum he or she decides is appropriate" (English, 2000, p. 1).
Bruner, J. (1960). The process of education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
English, F.W. (2000). Deciding what to teach and test: Developing, aligning and auditing the curriculum. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Erickson, H.L. (2007). Concept-based curriculum and instruction for the thinking classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Gewertz, C. (2011). 'Currriculum' Definition Raises Red Flags. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/03/23/26curriculum.h30.html?tkn=ZPYFRlQGbAPA9gLD4sVXSbi%252F%252BRE9ufNe5sml&cmp=clp-edweek on April 1, 2011.
Squires, D.A. (2009). Curriculum alignment: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Walker, D.F., & Soltis, J.F. (1992). Curriculum and aims (2nd ed.). New York: Teachers College Press.
Wiles, J. (2009). Leading curriculum development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Zmuda, A., Kuklis, R., & Kline, E. (2004). Transforming schools: Creating a culture of continuous improvement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.