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This assignment will give me the opportunity to explore an area of curriclum I have delivered in detail and write a crictical and reflective commentary; with reference to issues related to the development and quality of the curriclum. In doing so, I shall first identify and analyse the range of contexts in which the education and training are offered in the lifelong learning sector (LLS); explore definitions of curriclum and justify which is most applicable in my area of the curriculum; examine the theories, principles and models of curriculum design and its implementation by evaluating their impact on teaching and learning; and evaluate the significance of equality and diversity to curriculum design and demonstrate the ability to promote equality within my own practice. Finally I will critically evaluate my own practice by making proposals for improvements with reference to a range of theories, principles and modles of curriculum development relevant to the curriculum. My subject specialism in teaching within the Lifelong Learning Sector (LLS) is ESOL (English to Speakers of Other languages) and the area of curriclum i shall explore in detail withing this assignment is Skills for Life Level Entry 3.
The context I teach in mainly comes under the community and adult education within the Lifelong learning; a sector which is very broad consisting of work based learning, distance learning, private training providers, voluntary and prison education which are some of many other contexts which delivers education to its learners aged 16 and above. (see appendix i) Leaning can occur throughout every person’s life and opportunities are there in UK to meet educational needs for learners of all different walks of life. Thus, the different context in which education sits contributes to the way how one defines currioculum and in which the curriculum is designed and facilitated to meet its purpose.
A useful starting point would be to define ‘curriclum’. It is important to make note that there are many numerous definitions as ‘curruclum’ within the lifelong learning setor is very broad and complex; therefore it would not be appropriate to apply one single definition. ‘Curriculum’ is usually seen as a set syllabus by an awarding body which provides the content to be learned and assessed. It is then up to the subject teacher, myself working collabratively with my mentor to plan the course and produce a scheme of work. (Scales 2008). However, in my opinion, ‘curriculum’ is something more which aligns more closely to the definition offered by Schubert (1987), ‘the contents of a subject, concepts and tasks to be acquired, planned activities, the desired learning outcomes and experiences, product of culture and an agenda to reform society ‘.
This indicates that curriclum has a wider purpose that serves to meet the needs of the society. I would also add to this that ‘curriclum’ is incorporating the whole of the learners expereince, both formally and informally. (Pastance, 2003). This I could not agree more as ESOL curriculum delivered is not all formal learning and includes informal teachings such as social conventions reflected through the way I teach; heircahy reperesented through the teacher and leaners; and promoting and encouraging confidence and independence. This is done indirectly without setting tasks and planned activities and nor is it part of the lesson plan but is equally part of the curriclum. (Vallance, 1974)
Prior to 1999, there was no centralised funding for ESOL and there was no standardised training or curriclum. Therefore, ESOL was taught by professionals who had the sole responsibiity of the content and delivery of the subject. ESOL had not progreesed and devloped as much as the other subjects areas and had not been the focus of the government. Therefore, teachers relied on knowldege produced by experts and reseachers of particular area such as second language aquasition to help develop learning in ESOL. (Dunkin and Briddle, 1974) However, since there has been many factors that has impacted on ESOL curriclum.
Followed by a report from the Department of Education (2000) on ‘breaking the langauge barrier’; it led to skills for life strategy, ESOL Core Curriculum, and publication of related learning materials. This has been cricticed as this centralised control led to a heavy bearaucratic burden on teachers, for adutiting purposes and ecnomic motive related to global competitiveness instead of actually facilitating language learning or meeting the learners needs. (Callaghan, 2006)
This ineterst by the government can be seen from a marxist view that educational organisations are used to maintain power and control within the soicety. This is done through conytroling what should be learnt and how it should be learnt. (Lye, 1999) Since, the currriclum has become prescribed and does not allow much room for creativity and flexibility. It is also not very inclusine as it does not take into individual account and makes assumptions that learenrs would already have understandig of certain Engliah language knowledge and skills.
New technology has impacted significantly on the ESOL curriculum. With the use of of modern technology there seems to have been as shift from the traditional prescriptive approach used to teach English language towards more descriptive approach. Prescriptive represented the view that one variety of language holds a higher status and is more correct than others; thereforse this variety of language should be taught in ESOL curriculum. (Fromkin et. al., 2004) The descriptive approach, by contrast, celebrates the diverse usages of ESOL languages and does not condemn the use of standardised rules of language set by linguistics. (Crystal, 2006) The modern technology has a a lot to answer for this shift. The internet and short or instant messages had devebloped a langauge of its own which English speakeers have adopted and diverged from the standarddise english. This has put ESOL professionals under huge pressure to meet the demands of the social change and consider somehow to apply it in ESOL and look at short messages and various types of emails in the curriculum that uses informal language and acceptable slang. (Canaan, 2006)
Prescriptist supports the classical humanists ideology as it does not want to break away from the standard English and grammatical rules and meet the demand of the social changing trend. It resembles academic atittude and standards with formality. This is still evident in writing skills as Esol professional adhere standard English (see appendix ii). However, in refernce to speaking skills, the shift has occurred and there is a dialect which resembles to more natural order of the socity and reflects liberal humanism.
The modal relevant here is the Process Modal presented by Stenhouse () as it allows the teaher to facilitate learning and focus on learning that derives from experience. All leaners have some experience and knowledge of Eg;ish lanague which they bring into classroom with them as tey all have social and life skills. Therefore, it is important for the teacher to work with that by assessing continuously and correcting mistakes. It is very student focused and allows the teacher to develop the whole person by looking at the process of learning ones goes through and how to aid that learning. Thus, as professionals the lesson is planned around how the learning will take place through the learning activity chosen and what is to be learnt. (Neary, 2002) The danger with this modal is that although it allows me to be inclsive of all learners and differentiate, but it has no clear direction and neglects the importance of content. (Neary, 2002)
New government policies have impacted on the curriclum. Since the race riots in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley, a review lead by Ted Cantle (2001) proposed that people living in immigrant communities would need to learn English in order to aid community cohesion. (Cantle, 2001) This community cohesion review led to The UK Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act of 2002, which required those from 2005 wishing to settle in the UK permanantly had to pass a certain level of English language and knowledge of ‘life in the UK’. This has been implmented in entry levels of ESOL curriclum with parts of unit focusing on citizenship. This has had a huge impact on the curriculum design by adding units on citizenship including subjects such as history of Brtitain, UK parliament, the royal family and Beatles etc. (see appendix iii)
This part of the curriclum has come under a great scrutiny. It has been criticised as promoting assimilation instead of celebrating diversity. It has also been criticsied for not being inclusive as it forces immigrant communities to adopt the majority culture and not that of their own. (Han, Starkey, and Green, 2010) Also, adding citizenship which alone is a subject in its own right reduces the quality of an effective curriculum as citizenship does not faciitate language learning.
This part of the curruclum reflects classical humanist whereby it promotes knowledge of the high culture and culture heritage. There also appears to be a sense of soicalisation process of ‘Cultural Hegemony’ presented by Gransci. (Lye, 1997) Gransci presented how the such culturally diverse society was dominated by the beliefs, explanantion, perception and values of the ruling class which was acceptred by the norm in the way that was percoeved as natural, beneficial and better. (Matheson and Limon, 1990) The content model is relevant in designing this part of the curriclum as it assumes that what we learn is facts and knowledge. It is non- vocational and heavily subject based where it employes the ESOL professional as a tecaher and not a facilitator.
The social and economy changes has also impacted on the Esol curriclum. Since 2004, there has been a growth in Eeastern European (EU) immigrants into UK and due to langauge barrier has prevented some to find employment. Therefore, the Department of Work and Pension made it neccasry for those on jobseekers benefit with no English to make it a priority to learn English language as it would reduce unemployment and contribute towards the economy. This has effected the curriculum at the entry evel level as part of the currilcum involves focusing on looking at job adverts, fill in application forms, write CVs, and prepare for interviews. (see appendix iv) Role plays are also used in which the learners practise answering the phone at work, or asking for clarification of instructions; all of which can be considered as employability skills, rahter than work that develops learners’ literacy and English language skills. (Baynham and Roberts, 2007) Yet again, it is an area of the curriclum which an ESOL profesional is not specialised in employability skills and therefore can hinder on both the langauge learning and emplyability skills.
This part of the curriclum reflects an instrumentalist view espcially the emplyoment and skiils unit which are designed to develop the knowledge and skills required for employment. (Armitage et al, 1999) It seems to reflects states priority and why should it not when the state pays for the education. (Callaghan, 1976) There is a clear evidence that the purpose of certain parts of the curriclum percived by the givernment is to serve the socirty and economy and as teacher our duty is to meet the government priortise by delivering for them. Thus, it has an impact on the deliver whereby knoweldege given to the learner is factual and very much much teacher led. With this knowledge the aim of the teacher is to prepare the leaners for the worksforce and their role in the society. (Armitage et al, 1999) The government ulitmaite aim is to produce a highly educated workforce as it is essential in meeting the needs of the ecnomy. However, the danger with this is that not all leaners on ESOL achieve at this level skills that can lead to emplyoement. Secondly, nor does the learners always progress to higher level of English which then can lead to further skilled qualifications and emplyment. This creates social exclusion and leaners remain in poverty. (Williams, 2008)
Product model which was presented by Tyler (1949) and Taba () , is used to design this part ofteh curriclum as the focus is not what is to be learnt, but what the learners will end up being able to do. This allows the professionals to look at which has outcimes that can be measured and is particular useful apparoach in preparing people for working life. However, it is not inclsuive of learners who are creative and critical thinkers.
Last of all, the context and the organisation one works in has an impact on the curriculum one delivers and it has been the most significant for me. Esol Entry 3 delivered in the community such as the Childrens Centre where it has its own ethics of work and learning aims, are very different to college where the focus will be on the syllabus and units of the curriclum. The childrens centre would work different to a college whereby the centre is not strict with puntuality, provides paper and stationary, no homework unless the learner would like some. Also, not all leaners are required to sit the summative assessement unless the learners chose to do so and more focus is on the formative assessment. These are the significant differences from teaching entry 3 esol in community and in Further education college
Teaching at the Childrens Centre is very progressive and is the idelogy I embrace and exercise the most as it belives that there is a need to create a democratic soceity by encouraging personal growth of each learner. It is very student centred and involves active learning where the student are able to set their own goals with the teacher and achoeve them. Dewy (1916) who developed this ideology belived that students were at the centre of the educational and learning process and the purpose of the education is to unlock the potential of the learner. (Neary, 2002) owver the crictics claim that this lacks discipline and had no direction. But it has ultimately shown to have increased learners confodence and independence which is vital at this level of studny and for the leaners of there situation in life. (Neary, 2002)
This allowed me to adapt The situational model which is very relevant with my group of ESOL learners. Often coming from an unhappy backgrounds, lacking motivation and financial stability has an impact on their focus in the classroom. Therefore, this modal has allowed me to focus on the learner by adapting the curriculum to impact the learner as a whole by being able to look outside the written syllabus which will help the development of the leaner. (Skilbeck, 1984) As most adults are from vulnerable backgrounds and does not have Engish as a first langauge means that developing ones self-confidence is a priority through teamwork, giving good advice and guiding them towards financial competence, teaching about the education system and the accessibility of opportunities for work experience and work-based learning. This is not part of the written sylabus and is known as hidden curriclum which is equally important in developing the learner and move them to a higher levels of esteem and help them in process of self actaulaisation.
It has come to my knowdge that I need to adopt a process model of curriculum and tie it to situational model to allow for inclusive learning. Balancing the course measurement system, which is geared towards the outcomes, and measure of success which I use equips my learners with the skills and confidence and interest to tackle other challenges in their life but does not alone gives a rounded learning experience. It would also be inclusive to tie situational modal with the product modal as it would also contribute towtds a well rounded inclusive learning expereince and an effective curriculum design. Education should be all about the learner and his/her expereinces as a person which helps them develop themeslves as a person, as a means to ecnomic ends and as a citizen. (Petty, 2009) Therefore it is vital to designa currriculum that enables to fulful this purpose.
Most of the Esol curriculum design is based on thematic approach as many areas of the curriculum are connected together and integrated within a theme. It allows learning to be more natural and less fragmented than being divided into different subject areas. It allows literacy to grow progressively, with vocabulary linked and with spelling and sentence writing being frequently, yet smoothly, reinforced and provides context for communication. (Drikx and Pranger, 1997) Esol on the other hand, also reflects a spiral apprach. The core idea of the spiral approach is that basic knowledge and concepts are revisited repeatedly as new material is introduced. In this way a student’s learning develops in a spiral fashion – ever increasing in sophistication as earlier knowledge and concepts are recircled and enriched. With a spiral approach students have repeated opportunities to grasp the way in which knowledge and concepts are interrelated. The concept of the spiral curriculum was introduced to curriculum design by educationalist Jerome Bruner which helps to internalise the learing. (Knight, 2001) I prefer both these appraches as it has singnificant on effective learning. However I should consider Linear approach to be inclusive as learners learn in different ways to have more effective curriculum.
Effective curriculum design is so important for ESOL learners because they are not as adaptable as students who have progressed up the formal education system. For example, in the Higher Education system, it is possible to make assumptions about the learners in the classroom, they have greater self-control and discipline, and for this reason, it is fair to make a generalisation about your learners. Inclusive practice is so central to ESOL students because they come to the ‘classroom’ with so many emotional, social and practical barriers to learning. It is certainly not a ‘level playing field’.
To conclude, different part of the currilcum stem from different ideoogies and thus different design modals shape them. However, whilst the modals might be the best for that particular curriclum does not mean it will work best with all the leaners. Therefore,to be inclusive, it is crucial to combine two modals together so that all learners are included within the curriclum and is the most effective. Curriculum design for inclusive practice is central to effective learning and teaching. I also feel the aim of curriculum design should be to focus it to fit the learner. However, effective teaching and learning is not just about the design of the formal curriculum, or syllabus but equally important is the design and delivery of the informal curriculum. Inclusive practice means understanding learners’ needs and then personalising both the content and process (or delivery) of the learning. At all times, inclusive practice needs to be continuously built into the curriculum and revised every lesson to be made adaptable to meet the ever changing needs of the learner.