Curriculum Designs: An anecdotal beginning

It’s valuable I think to consider where my own initial understanding of curriculum design came from. Anecdotal and personal experience are where most educators in the college system start: we are hired for our experiences in the area we are teaching, and though education is a must (most college professors need a minimum of a Master’s degree in the subject area they teach in order to be hired full time), formal pedagogical and/or andragogical training (and this could be a whole other post!) is largely left up to the individual to pursue (though all the colleges in Ontario work hard to develop professional development opportunities in support of teaching and assessment practices).

And so we come to it, most likely, in a way that mimics our own lived experiences. And that often is the subject-centered curriculum design that comes out of what I am generalizing as the Perennialism or Realistic philosophies that underscored much of our public schooling (with a focus on traditional facts, knowledge), and (if we were fortunate) a move towards a more problem-centered curriculum that we experienced in post secondary where intellectual growth and academics were fostered under a philosophy of Essentialism and Idealistic thought.

For those of us with children in school, their experiences also inform our view of curriculum. When my daughter was in grade 4 she was in a 4/5 split and was learning different subject matter than some of her peers in a straight grade 4 class. I recall the conversation with other parents about how the subject they were learning (medieval life versus vikings) was less important than the learning that was happening (research, writing, inquiry, collaboration). In a way this was my first realization that a shift was happening and served as my first introduction to the concept of inquiry- and problem-based curriculum. At the same time, I still strongly felt (and still do feel) that there are some standard understandings or skills that all children need and that education needs to include these core skills. I have some concerns about inquiry-based learning at the expense of other curriculum approaches.

So this is where I started.


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