Issues in Scottish Curriculum Design Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 21 December 2016

Issues in Scottish Curriculum Design

The way that any curricula is broken up into is two main ways; one being the curriculum in action, where the aims, content and experiences of the curriculum on paper are implemented in practice. The other is the curriculum on paper which is the ideology of what should be implemented in education across the board. The ideology in curriculum can be split up into four main categories. Most papers on this topic, agree to an extent what the four ideologies constitute of, but Schiro’s (2008) ideologies are the most commonly known. The ‘Scholar Academic’, the ‘Social Efficiency’, the ‘Learner Centred’ and the ‘Social Reconstruction’ ideologies are the four main categories explained in the Curriculum Theory that will be discussed in this paper in relation to The Curriculum for Excellence, the current curriculum in Scotland. The oldest of the four ideologies is the Scholar Academic ideology which focuses on the accumulation of knowledge and understanding.

The aim of this ideology is to pass on the knowledge of certain disciplines (subject areas), to allow there to be future scholars in that particular area and therefore, further develop understanding. The academic disciplines are the result of the culture’s compiled knowledge and understanding of each area, and with this in mind, the purpose of education is to assist pupils to learn this knowledge. The next ideology is Social Efficiency. This is pretty dominant in our curriculum today and means to prepare the learner for becoming an efficient and contributing member in society. The learner’s objective is to learn certain skills that will in turn achieve certain objectives that benefit society (Lorrie A. 2000). The individual will learn a mixture of knowledge and skills that can be put together, therefore making the skills more efficient and more beneficial to society. The learner centred ideology focuses more on the needs and interests of the individual rather than the content they are to learn.

The idea behind this theory is that learning will take place due to the interactions between the individual and their environment, therefore being more down to the experiences rather than the content. The newest of these ideologies is Social Reconstruction. This is where the social reconstructionists are aware of the problems in society and see the job of the educator to correct these problems in the classroom, hoping that it will reconstruct their society as it is (Groenke, S. 2009). The focus of the curriculum would not be based on knowledge but more of values and opinions that would benefit the society and make it attain the greatest satisfaction of its members. In ‘Building the Curriculum 3: A framework for learning and teaching’ it has examples of all four of the classifications of the curriculum ideology provided by Schiro (2008).

It has examples of Academic ideology as it discusses the importance of knowledge and the ability and opportunity to increase the depth of knowledge already acquired as it states “Throughout a young person’s learning there will be increasing specialisation and greater depth, which will lead to subjects increasingly being the principal means of structuring learning and delivering outcomes.” (page 20, Building the Curriculum 3). From this quote we can relate the academic ideology through the concentration on developing knowledge further to specialisation in certain subjects, therefore being able to pass on the knowledge and allow it to grow from there.

There are many examples of ‘The Social Efficiency Ideology’ in the paper as it focuses on health and wellbeing experiences and outcomes where the individual’s get the opportunity to gain skills that benefit the individual in life and work, but also the community around them. This is to help them become effective contributors in society: …support all children and young people in developing skills which they will use throughout their life and in their work, including the development of pre-vocational, enterprise and employability skills, personal skills, high levels of cognitive skills and the opportunity to put learning into a practical context. (page 15, Building the Curriculum 3)

This example shows that the curriculum is aiming to encourage the learning of certain skills that will improve chances of employability and life skills that will help the young people settle into society and be able to play their part within it. The Curriculum for Excellence sees itself as being centred on the learner, and their individual needs. There are plenty examples throughout the paper of this ideology where the child is involved in what they are learning and setting themselves goals to achieve and having choice in what they learn within the curriculum, “All children and young people should experience personalisation and choice within their curriculum, including identifying and planning for opportunities for personal achievement in a range of different contexts” (page 17, Building the Curriculum 3). This quote shows that the idea of the curriculum is to give young people freedom to make their own decisions in what they are learning and at their own level.

There are four capacities that make up the purpose of the curriculum that are described in this paper. ‘Successful learners’, ‘confident individuals’, ‘responsible citizens’ and ‘effective contributors’, are the capacities that the curriculum aims to enable young people to become. ‘Responsible citizens’ is a good example of The Social Reconstructive ideology as it explains how they will learn respect and about different cultures and how to behave responsibly within the community in all aspects (political, cultural or otherwise). As Building the curriculum states: …able to develop knowledge and understanding of the world and Scotland’s place in it, understand different beliefs and cultures make informed choices and decisions evaluate environmental, scientific and technological issues develop informed, ethical views of complex. (page 22, Building the Curriculum 3)

Here in this example, it shows that the curriculum wants to provide young people with varied knowledge so that the decisions they make in the future will help to create a better society. The idea is to teach them about values and respect so that they may make better informed decisions as to what is best for the society around them. Building the Curriculum 3 contains examples of all four of the ideology categories, but there are two that are most prevalent, ‘Learner Centred’ and ‘Social Efficiency’. Upon examining the evidence in more depth it seems that the ‘Social Efficiency’ ideology is the most dominant within this paper. Its main focus is on preparing and equipping individuals for future endeavours. For instance, the skills needed for future work prospects upon which Kridel’s (ed.2010) summary, of David Sneddon’s idea of social efficiency, explains the curriculum as a way to make individuals efficient for work.

As discussed by Arnoldy (online), social efficiency in education is more for the benefit of the social economy than for the individual, but contradicting that theory in this paper, are the examples of learner centred ideology that is dotted throughout. Though, combining these two theories, Valades’ (online) talks about the idea that to help out society, educating young people to learn and improve their skills and capabilities to help the community in the future, is the way forward. From Building the Curriculum 3 and having summarised that the main ideology behind it is focusing on preparing the individuals to become more efficient and productive for contributing to our society, we can see that there will be some implication for teachers. Teachers who have been teaching for years under the same curriculum will struggle to accept the new curriculum, if it is as completely different way to how they have been teaching before.

Although the main focus of the curriculum in Scotland has been focused on preparing individuals for the future, it has not been focused on the more individual level. This may cause implication for teachers as they only have specific allocated times to be with classes and it will be hard to offer each individual, the time and attention they need to develop specific skills to the point of being efficient. The teacher will have to focus more on the experiences and outcomes the learners are objected to, to develop the skills needed for the real world. This causes some problems as it depends highly on what the school can afford to give in ways of experiences, as most of these will probably be met outside of school.

So, teachers need to find a way of achieving the outcome of making the individual a more effective contributor to society by combining what they learn in and outside of the classroom. This would be a task for teachers, as the environment each individual they teach will be different and this therefore means that the teacher will have to find a way to combine these different environments or find a similarity and focus on that. Building the Curriculum 3 has some implication for teachers, but the focus being on social efficiency means that in some ways there are not so many changes from the past as at least for the last hundred years the school curriculum has been focused on making learners that will have skills that will help them achieve objectives that will make the society a more efficient place.

A Comparative Overview of the Curriculum Ideologies – Chapter 6 (visited 29th dec 2012) Critical Pedagogy and Teacher Education in the Neoliberal Era: Small Openings pp 3 Springer Netherlands, 2009 volume 6 Susan L. Groenke Social Efficiency Theory – SAVE SOMETHING TODAY Rodrigo Valades visited 29th dec 2012 The Role of
Assessment in a Learning Culture Lorrie A. Shepard Vol. 29, No. 7 (Oct., 2000), pp. 4 American Educational Research Association Chapter 6 – A Comparative Overview of the Curriculum Ideologies visited 29th dec 2012 Encyclopedia of Curriculum Studies edited by Craig Kridel SAGE Publications Inc 2010 Pg 4-7 Curriculum Theory: Conflicting Visions and Enduring Concerns, Schiro, M. (2008a) SAGE Publications, Inc Pg 199-245 Curriculum Theory: Conflicting Visions and Enduring Concerns Second Edition, Schiro, M. (2012b) SAGE Publications, Inc Building the Curriculum 3: A framework for learning and teaching, The Scottish Government, 2008

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