A Response to Ben Levin’s “Curriculum Policy and the Politics of What Should be Learned in Schools”
Reading Response Five
Prior to Reading:
Before reading this article I thought that school curricula was developed by a group of teachers, other big contributors in society (i.e. health officials, politicians, businessmen and women, etc.), and the government. I thought a group of these people would sit down and make the curriculum together. I think I thought this because I believe that everyone who has gone through the education system and has gone on to live and work in the world has gathered experience and knowledge in subject areas that teachers educate their students in. However, now I know differently.
After reading I found out that the school curriculum is developed, and is governed, by politics in just about every aspect. While the curriculum is initially developed and revised by teachers, experts in the field, and representatives from post-secondary institutions the article states that, “in most jurisdictions, final authority over curriculum rests with national or subnational governments” (p.15) meaning that governments will have the final say in what should be included in the curriculum. Politics determines what students will learn, how they will learn, with what resources, etc. How sad. There is no freedom to explore what can or should be learned, if it is not included within the curriculum. However, powerful individuals, within the government, is able to make the decision to add or drop elements within the curriculum. This does not sit well with me because how do we know that that one powerful individual is knowledgeable within the subject area? We don’t. While teachers implement the curriculum in the classroom on a daily basis, as teachers are mandated to follow curriculum, it is the governing officials that initially create and implement curriculum.
This reading provides new information to me, in that there are two central debates that exist in the development and implementation of curriculum. The first being the concerns that shape school curriculum, which is what subjects should be included, how much time should be designated to them, when sex education should be introduced, etc. The second debate is over the content of each subject. This includes disagreement between what information should be included in each grade, what should be explicitly taught, what classes should be required, etc. Both of these debates can be ever going because not everyone is going to agree all of the time, and that is okay because every individual is entitled to have their own opinion. However, we need to be able to separate what are opinions and what are facts. Which leads me to my next point.
I found it concerning that the government attempts to shape and respond to the public opinion. In some cases this has the potential to be good, but it also could have very bad affects. Simply because not all of the public is knowledgeable on certain issues, we need to consider where the public’s information is coming from and if it is creditable before taking the issue into account and making changes. Some people might have very strong views but do not have any evidence to back up what they are saying. It is scary to think that Education policies can be shaped and altered by those same opinions because many educational policies are important and need to be included in student’s education for that reason alone.
On a final note, it is surprising that in the conclusion of this article states that the dynamics of curriculum tend to be poorly understood by most educators. However, I find this troubling to believe as us educators are some of the people that work very close with the curriculum. But that is just my opinion.