Some thoughts on curriculum

Harold Jarche has an interesting set of posts discussing the role of curriculum in public school education, and the impact it can/does have on our children. In a post today, Harold explains his issues with public school curriculum:

My issue is first that the public school curriculum, as it is implemented, is based on subjects and not processes (e.g. critical thinking; research methods; logic; etc). Secondly, I know from experience that the NB Department of Education does not have a process by which its subject-based curriculum is developed. Basically, a number of “experts” are put in a room for a week and when it’s over they have developed a curriculum. It is a rather black art. There are no first principles on which a subject’s curriculum is based so one cannot go back and determine if the subject is still relevant, if it ever was.

Curriculum, as currently practised, constrains learners, as there is no room for exploration because the teachers must cover what’s on the curriculum. This is the flaw in being subject-based. If education were process-based, then teachers could facilitate learning using a variety of subject areas. Why should I learn about history when I am more interested in art? Can’t I learn critical thinking in either discipline? Such an approach would mean giving up control, and that of course is the real issue.

The emphasis there at the end is mine. This is a recurring theme from the industrial age, which is all about control, that we need to overcome so we can move into the information age.

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