*This is a reflection post required for my JHU-ISTE Leadership program.
This reflection is to focus on answering the following questions:
How has your definition of curriculum been shaped by the course readings and discussions? How and why has your definition of curriculum changed?
For reference, our texts for this course were:
Burrello, L. C., Lashley, C., & Beatty, E. E. (2001). Educating all students together: How school leaders create unified systems. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Glatthorn, A. A. (2004). Developing a quality curriculum. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Glatthorn
Tomlinson, C. A. (1999 or 2004). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Tomlinson
As posted in my first reflection for this course I was certainly pushed on my definition of curriculum over the past eight weeks. When I first started the course, I wasn’t sure that I had an established definition at all. It seemed to me that many different people used many different definitions for the term. Still does. And while I believe I have more clarity on the issue, I’m not sure I’m ready to declare I have a definitive answer. I’m not sure I want to.
The theme of the “written, taught, and tested” curriculum came up time and again in our work. It still seems to me that is too narrow a focus for true curriculum. I’m still of the mind that curriculum remains everything that students end up learning in our institution. The written, taught, and tested is a big part of that to be sure, but it isn’t all of it. Because again, kids learn as much about themselves, us, and learning from the things we chose to omit as from the things we choose to include.
There are many curriculums that are “test prep” focused. That speaks volumes to students about the value of creativity and innovation. Especially when they aren’t allowed such because it would interfere with the test prep scope and sequence. When programs start cutting the arts, that teaches a student more than what they learn in an entire unit of grammar. They learn between the lines. I’m afraid we forget that. We mislead ourselves to think they learn what we direct them to. If you believe that, I’m afraid you’re sorely mistaken.
And if you aren’t considering the needs of all your students, again, you’re missing an incredibly large part of the point. We’re not in this business to make things. To manufacture items. To manage. We’re here to serve students and help them figure out how they can most effectively learn. And we do that for all our students. Tomlinson’s book certainly provided a great deal of thought on this topic. And I think we’d do well to all remember that not all students run a six minute mile, nor do they learn at the same rate.
In considering how my definition of curriculum has changed over the course of this class, I also recognize Glatthorn’s influence on my thinking. His work provides an excellent framework for considering when working on implementing a new curriculum. Although I can’t say that he directly changed any part of my definition of the term itself, he certainly provided great guidance in setting up a sound system that will help navigate curriculum change.
As this course draws to a close, and I’m considering my final definition of curriculum, I’d probably have to return to a variant of my original definition.
Curriculum is everything we want our students to learn; including the explicit and implicit of what our system fosters for learning.
I’m sure that will continue to evolve, and I’m happy with that. I’m not ready to stop wrestling with the concept quite yet.