Monday, September 28, 2015

The new curriculum

BC is part way through a "transformation of the education system" which has, at its heart, curriculum revisions throughout K-12.  Having sat through a number of "new curriculum" sessions in the last year, and even delivered a few, I find it interesting how teachers and other educators talk about it.

"The new curriculum is about _______ (fill in the blank)." It seems to have become all things to all people, even if ________ has little basis in the actual new curriculum. It is a tabula rasa on which educators are placing all of their dreams, goals, and fears about the future of education and all of the justifications for the way they conduct their practice, or wish to.  I know I have done this at times, perhaps influenced by dozens of examples from others in BC. The version I like the best is where teachers (with cause) cite the infinite Choice that the New Curriculum offers. Basically we can now do absolutely anything we want whenever we want, as long as we reference inquiry and/or personalized learning. The curriculum will "allow" more depth, more authenticity, more PBL, more inclusion of Aboriginal learners, more time to follow passions. The teachers that say these things are awesome teachers who do this stuff anyways, so maybe the "NC" just affirms that they will continue to be supported. The open-endedness is reinforced by a curriculum process (e.g. the Ministry process) that has been sufficiently vague along the way about how it will all work, and is still vague regarding where it will end up (the grad plan).

I suppose this speaks to latent hope, and a legitimate need for new approaches to teaching and learning, but is also a bit disturbing as it gives the "new curriculum" a mysterious lustre and the function of an oft-quoted (or alluded) but poorly understood religious text within the milieu of education change. This metaphysical approach shifts curriculum from a guide or a track that has been laid down to a series of interconnected, fluid, and subjective feelings. This work is done by the priests of the new curriculum who are involved in conversion experiences -- from the "old" way of teaching and learning (whatever the heck that is) to the Transformed Way. The conversion is considered to be successful when the inducted teacher can use "21st Century" jargon convincingly and with effect.

I mock it a bit, but I am also intrigued to see where it all ends up. After all, "fervour" is hard to manufacture, and is often a necessary step on the path towards "transformation" in all its forms.

1 comment:

Bryan Jackson said...

Ha! Exactly. While there will likely be plenty to gripe about in implementation (or intention, perhaps), there is a lot to be excited about in the spirit of what I've seen. Especially in socials - been appreciating the work you've put into collecting and connecting with the new stuff!