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Saturday, July 7, 2018

Theme 1, Module 1

Assignment expectations explain, in writing or through other modes of communication, why some conceptions of curriculum continue to be used over time or are considered to be mainstream approaches, while others are not. In addition, explain your interpretation of conceptions of curriculum and how you can use them as tools or frameworks to analyze planning, instruction, and assessment within your specific context of practice.

After completing the required readings I now have a better understanding of various conceptions of curriculum.  I was introduced to concepts I had never heard of before and was reminded of some ideals that Im fully on board with.   

I believe that some conceptions continue to be used over time or are considered mainstream approaches because there is little effort for curriculum change. Whether this is steming from a political or funding stand point I cant say, but I think  that some things in the public school system needs to change.   As a Montessori school teacher I valued that the students could learn about their interests and were not told that they needed to wait until that subject was taught in Grade 4 Science or Grade 3 Social studies.  By dismissing this interest as an educator you are missing a window of opportunity, a teachable moment where the students are motivated and curious and this should be celebrated, acknowledged and explored.  Sadly in a large class size with a strict curriculum to uncover at each grade level this is not an attainable method. 

One conception of curriculum I was introduced to by J McNeil in the article
Contemporary Curriculum: In Thought and Action was the Humainist approach.   A humanistic curriculum is seen by students as important in helping them be what they want to be; it is a curriculum where learning is high in personal relevance, feeling, and probable success. I think that this approach to curriculum would be hugely  beneficial for the children of today.  I can recall in my undergrad I would excel in any of the courses that were about my focus (Child Studies) but lost all interest and motivation (and my grades suffered in these courses) when I was forced to take Statistics, and some Science credits.  I just wanted to learn about Child Development, Children's Literature, Child Rights and anything pertaining to my future career field. Imagine if the Ontario full day kindergarten programs expectations continued into the Grade 1 and so on.  Fully embracing a student lead and inquiry based program has many benefits for the students and allows them to become active learners. 

One example of a school that takes a similar approach to learning and teaching is Summerhill. “The humanistic curriculum supports the American ideal of individualism, helping students discover who they are, not just shaping them into a form that has been designated in advance”.  Many theorists will agree that much of what is taught is not learned and much of what is presented and tested is not assimilated. Critics who think that greater learning is achieved by pouring more facts into children's minds are mistaken.  If you havent heard of Summerhill here is the link for more information it was founded in 1921, it continues to be an influential model for progressive, democratic education around the world. Summerhill is the oldest children's democracy in the world. It is probably the most famous alternative or 'free' school.  To humanists, the goals of ed

ucation are related to the ideals of personal growth
integrity, and autonomy. Healthier attitudes toward self, peers, and learning are among their expectations.

My own interpretations based on the readings in terms of using curriculum conceptions  as tools or frameworks to analyze planning, instruction, and assessment within my teaching is to do self reflection.  What curriculum factors have I seen work, what do I feel is important to integrated in my planning, instruction and assessment?  For me its looking at how I can integrate the importantce of moral education, life skills and using the students self lead learning to create lessons, facilitate discussions and provide various assessments that place value on the progress and not product, learning styles and character traits. 

"Taking a closer look at schools means reflecting on the difference between seeing schools as an agent for moral uplift and seeing the school as a purely functional means of providing the survival skills necessary for the maintenance of civilization.” – Eiser & Vallance (1974).  This begs me to ask the question what are the necessary skills for maintenance in civilization. Algebra and Computer Literacy arent the first thing that come to mind but more so; self regulation, work ethic, and social skills. With so much emphasis in schools about anti bullying I have always taken a keen focus on positive relationships in a classroom.  To create a positive culture of care in a classroom and school it takes consistency and effort but when its role modelled, celebrated and appreciated friendships and respect for each other can flourish.  I personally would much rather have my daughters report card come home that reads “she plays well with others, she is kind and respectful” than “she is meeting all the math expectations and can write all the letters of the alphabet”.  So how can we as educators ensure that all the curriculum expectations are being met across all subjects and ensure that students are given necessary life skills that aren’t on the standardized tests?  When each student feels heard, valued and that they belong they demonstrate success in both academics and their actions.


As highlighted in the article by Gavin Brown (2006) most teachers are not just delivery mechanisms or conduits for curriculum; but rather they are creators or makers of curriculum (Clandinin & Connelly, 1992).  Teachers are responsible on finding the content and create a method of presenting the material that is meaningful to the students.  This gives me alot of flexibility in my planning, implementation and assessment of the curriculum.   For example, if I was preparing to teach the subject of fractions to a Grade 4 class I could integrate a humanistic approach by hosting a number talk at the beginning of the lesson.  My lesson would enable the students to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways such as a picnic art, chalk hopscotch, creating family fraction stories and movement with fraction dancing.  My assessment would be using my observation skills was the students are in small and large group activities, through peer and self assessments and from actively listening to their understanding during the number talks.  This integrates the conception of self actualization in asking what they know and what they still want to learn going forward. 

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