The school visit has been a great learning experience. Theoretical knowledge helps in putting forward a concept but it is the field visit that strengthens those concepts in our minds. The field visit accentuated the knowledge gained in class. I interviewed Ms. Angel C; Assistant-Superintendent of the Curriculum Department. The focus of the interview was to know the various aspects related to curriculum design. I realized that designing a curriculum is not as easy as it appears. There are many issues that are related to it.
If these issues are not taken care of properly then even if a curriculum is designed with utmost care, it cannot be expected to be successful. The interview threw light upon the fact that a new standard of performance is being introduced in the schools since the past three years. This standard is known as Georgia Performance Standard (GPS). This performance standard is replacing the old objectives known as Quality Core Curriculum (QCC). Each year a new subject is undertaken under the contemporary GPS from the conventional QCC. This year it is the turn of Social Studies.
The interview focussed on the importance of a well-designed curriculum. It emphasized the commonly accepted fact that curriculum design plays an important role in the learning process. The interview also focussed on the importance of good teachers to effectively generate the objectives of the set curriculum. Ms. Angel C. pointed out that in the absence of good teachers, even an excellent curriculum would deliver poor results and vice versa. In the successful implementation of GPS she gave full credits to the teachers of this country.
She said that the credit goes to teachers for accepting the challenge of teaching with a different set of guidelines and objectives. Apart from gaining knowledge in the above discussed areas, extracting the qualities that a good curriculum possesses, to know to differentiate between good and bad curriculum and to learn about the things that should be kept in mind during future curriculum deployment were the main focus of the interview. My aim was to gain as much knowledge as possible about the designing of an excellent curriculum. I learnt many useful tips and ideas through this interview.
They would prove to be very helpful for future curriculum deployment. While designing a curriculum it is very important to keep in mind that it is not only for the pupils. Rather it should collectively benefit all its publics i. e. the district, teacher, and the schools. If even one of these is left out, total success cannot be achieved. According to Ms. Angel C. (personal communication, July 15, 2008) the following are the characteristics of a good curriculum: • “Integrated topic studies, rather than whole-group instruction in isolated skills; • Opportunities for children to learn by observing and experimenting with real objects;
• A balance of child- and teacher-initiated activities; • Opportunities for spontaneous play and teacher-facilitated activities; • Group projects in which cooperation can occur naturally; • A range of activities requiring the use of large and small muscles; • Exposure to good literature and music of the children’s own cultures and of other cultures represented in the class; • Authentic assessment of each child’s developmental progress; • Opportunities for children with diverse backgrounds and developmental levels to participate in whole-group activities; and
• Time for individuals or small groups of children to meet with the teacher for specific help in acquiring basic reading, writing, mathematical, and other skills as needed. ” Hence through the interview it was clear that there should be an objective of ensuring an active participation from all the stakeholders. This will positively impact future curriculum development. Summary of the interview From the interview it was clear that the curriculum under discussion is in a transformational phase. The model that was earlier being followed was the core-based model.
According to Funderstanding if a curriculum is based on this model then “Rather than focusing on discovery, teaching revolves around imparting a predetermined body of knowledge. ” (2001, para. 4) Since the past three years there has been a change in this outlook. Now the focus is not on making the children know the correct answers. Instead there is an insistence on critical thinking and problem solving. The children are now active partners in their process of learning. The teachers have also got the opportunity to teach with creativity. This is the reason why Ms. Angel C.
stressed a lot on the importance of a good teacher. In the outcome-based model, which is being gradually implemented, there is a great need of a good teacher. In this the teacher’s role is to not just go on and on with the same text over the years, rather instill a habit of critical thinking in children from different backgrounds and of different IQ levels. The theory that gets reflected from the model of outcome-based learning, which is currently being implemented in the schools, is that stress should be on the performance and not on the text material that is being covered.
A good curriculum’s focus should be on how children are performing and learning and not on what they ought to know. In this model, curriculum is not a product but a process. Therefore the outcome-based model can also be recognized as a process based model. Smith had rightly pointed out that: “In this sense curriculum is not a physical thing, but rather the interaction of teachers, students and knowledge. In other words, curriculum is what actually happens in the classroom and what people do to prepare and evaluate. What we have in this model is a number of elements in constant interaction.
It is an active process and links with the practical form of reasoning set out by Aristotle. ” (2000, para. 26) The interview gave a detailed insight into curriculum design and evaluation. In a bird’s view the interview taught me that a curriculum should be designed in such a way that there is scope of active participation from both teachers and pupils. It stressed that evaluation should focus on what the pupils have gained and how the teachers have taught and not on what the teachers have taught and how much the pupils should have learned.
It was evident from the interview; that the curriculum deployment plan is excellent. A committee comprising of parents, teachers and administrators take active part in selection of the texts. This committee minutely considers a plethora of books before deciding upon the one that best suits the objectives of the curriculum. In fact a voting system is deployed within the committee to get a consensus on the best texts. After this, through both horizontal and vertical flow of communication, teachers guide pupils on what they should know and what they should be able to do with the gained knowledge.
To ensure proper implementation, quality assurance tests and stringent evaluation methods like criterion referencing and norm reference testing are utilized. When all these measures are taken to ensure total success in curriculum design and implementation, then naturally proper attention is paid to the funding part as well. Without proper funding one cannot involve experts. Neither can one deploy effective evaluation techniques to measure the success level. So funding has a great impact on design and implementation of curriculum.
Just as in curriculum designing process, during the curriculum mapping process too, stakeholders play a major role. At both elementary and secondary levels different criteria and norms are referenced. There are separate criteria and norms depending upon the class of the pupils and the content of their study materials. The criteria and norms of mapping become more advanced as the pupils move from elementary to secondary level. Hence the process of curriculum mapping is the same. It is the standard of evaluation and curriculum mapping that differs in elementary and secondary levels.
Conclusion The interview became a significant source of information about curriculum design. The process of preparing the questionnaire, conducting an interview, summarizing the gathered information and researching in the process of writing this report will all play a very important role in all my future endeavors in the field of education. References Core Curriculum. (2001). Retrieved July 19, 2008, from http://www. funderstanding. com/core_ curriculum. cfm Smith, M. K. (2000). Curriculum theory and practice. Retrieved July 19, 2008, from http://www. infed. org/biblio/b-curric. htm