What Group Should Influence School Curriculum Selection?
A Response to the 'Biblical Foundations' Article
While administration and parents should have a definite role in curriculum planning, I think that teachers ought to have a key role in developing curriculum since teachers work with students on a daily basis. Due to the nature of the close contact with students, teachers often have the best indication of what, how, and when the students need to learn things.
Consider the teacher who uses Bloom’s taxonomy for class discussions. If he notices that students cannot move beyond the comprehension level he should alter his teaching methods and develop curriculum so that students can easily move o the next level of learning. While memorization is good, students ultimately ought to be able to apply, synthesize and evaluate what they learn. When a teacher recognizes a deficiency in learning from the previous grades, or sees a problem with textbooks he ought to report such problems to the administration or school board for future consideration.
When teachers notice a lack of understanding, they should first ensure that the students have a firm foundation of knowledge on the subject, and then consider their methods of teaching. Recognizing that not all students learn in the same manner, the teacher ought to integrate varied techniques that bring in a variety of learning styles or preferences. Teachers should develop classroom activities to bring in each of the four major learning styles- visual, aural, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. For example, instead of a teacher only lecturing about a historical event, students could research and write about a major battle, create a timeline of events or reenact an event. Using such techniques not only brings the classroom to life, but it serves as a sort of review.
Teachers who do not consider developing curriculum to suit the needs of the learner may stagnate learning, and cause a student to lose interest in class altogether. Teachers are to ensure students learn content and are adequately prepared for the next grade level.
Curriculum selection can be a time consuming and stressful process. Often new curriculum content is brought in to supplement poor current content or to reflect the changing needs of the community. Were I to lead a curriculum selection committee, I would first begin our process by asking each member of the group to take a brief learning preferences or personality quiz. I think such an activity would help us recognize our own tendencies, strengths and weaknesses and allow us to work together with a group. Realizing that not one person is strong in all areas makes the group realize that having varied viewpoints allows for a more well rounded decision and is more likely to be of most benefit to the students.
I would ask that each member of the group brainstorm about how the current curriculum is lacking and ask them to present information on what they think needs to be implemented. Once everyone has presented their suggestions, I would try to compile a list of attributes of an effective curriculum. We would then use this rubric as a guideline to see if any curriculum could meet the needs that we thought were most important.
Along the way, our curriculum selection committee might realize we have unrealistic expectations or that there are most aspects to the content than we originally considered. Flexibility to adjust our rubric and standards would be of utmost importance.