What Remains Unchanged Despite Curriculum Trends Essay
What Remains Unchanged Despite Curriculum Trends
I can’t believe it. I’m writing an academic paper without even leaving my favorite swivel chair. In front of my Dell laptop hooked to the Internet, I am able to search scholarly articles without having my feet wander. What’s good is that I don’t run out of references to use because my knowledge in Internet research gives me a reason to love online databases and be skeptic of the traditional card catalogue which I used in the past. Beside me that morning was a nine-year-old child who consulted the CD-ROM for his/her home work.
It looked good to see a little child no longer having difficulty carrying the once-so-popular and hard-to-carry encyclopedia. She reminded me of my students in second grade. My students in the classroom now were not the same as my students seven years back. Their habits and the way they respond to lessons have changed. On my way to school, I noticed that the students who study here are of different colors of skin and hair, and of different shapes of eyes. What’s more, not everybody speaks the same kind of English.
These personal observations made me believe that times and culture had indeed changed, and are not about to be reversed. I have no doubt that these simple observations can be interpreted as a signal for a whole new world in teaching. Let me bring you today to the world of teaching ten years from now. AS I SEE IT: CURRICULAR CHANGES IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS I find it really hard to imagine what education will be like in the next ten years not because it’s difficult to assess what’s going to happen to the curriculum but because it’s frightening to admit that man-made technology will shape the future curricula in the higher education.
Yes, it is no longer the humans but the products of humans – which are the computer and the Internet — that would dictate what the future curricula should contain. If ten years ago, the Internet was just new to the mass (Burke, 2008), this time, more sophisticated Internet-related tools and software are hitting the public sphere. Dykman & Davis (2008) mention that, “As Internet technology has matured, it has become feasible to address issues that have perplexed educators for generations in innovative and newly effective ways” (p.
14). Gone are the days when students have to personally see their teachers in their offices just to submit their papers and other requirements. This is true even for grade school students. If at present, e-mail promises to deliver student papers to the teacher’s mail box, the next ten years can be a witness to even more sophisticated tool in turning in papers to hard-to-catch teachers. Technology can now be the basis for a tool that amazingly improves education (Dykman & Davis, 2008, p. 12).
The point here is that technological advances, which are all man-created, will dictate the kind of teaching and learning schools will have in the future. A wider use of video technology is expected to hit universities and schools in the country, and even around the globe. As Bond (2005) predicted three years ago, “simulation, visualization tools, virtual worlds, personal intelligent tutors, vast digital libraries and museums, learning and collaboration unbounded by geography” would shape new learning and teaching environment (qtd. In Burke, 2008).
Because of the technology-driven climate in the Education sector, teachers like me are expected to treat technology use as an issue to deal with regardless of the academic climate. This consistent use of technology in the classroom can then be responsible for the sudden paradigm shift in the education sector. The “sage on the stage” approach is transforming to become a “guide on the side” strategy of teaching. This means that if in the past, the students expect to “simply hear lecture” whenever the teacher is coming, this time, students anticipate a teacher that guides and facilitates among students (Abbott, 2005; Wong et.
al. , 2006; qtd. in Dykman & Davis, 2008. p. 13). I can predict that the flash cards that I used in teaching would come to its death and would be replaced by glittering video materials to assist in teaching kids. There’s no other way I can avoid video technology knowing that my students are already exposed to various computer programs. Bringing them back to the original classroom setting where papers abound would just make them tune out. Moreover, this technology-inspired generation needs to be ICT literate.
Injecting ICT literacy in the curriculum is also essential because my students and I would not enjoy the benefits computers bring without us knowing exactly how information and communication technology works. To use technology therefore, requires a certain level of ICT literacy. THE CURRICULUM CONTENT AND THE FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT With the “global village” becoming a reality, I am expected to be able to deal with different kinds of students who come from different races and have different colors, facial features, aspirations, and culture.
These differences symbolize the metaphorical need for teachers to adjust their teaching strategies to make sure that the differences are being considered in the conduct of classes. The next ten years would not remember that people in the world come from different parts of the planet. If I were to be successful, then I must be prepared to be confronted with the cultural diversity in a classroom. No matter how diverse the student population is, all of the students deserve to have equal opportunities in reaching their “full potential” (What Works in Teaching, 2008).
This is only permissible through the professional assistance from teachers who ought to have a clear understanding of each student’s needs and even limitations as students coming from different parts of the world. A professor of Education at the University of Virginia, Carol Ann Tomlinson, argues that “teachers need to know each student individually to understand their challenges, and to meet them at their ability while demanding their best efforts” (What Works in Teaching, 2008).
As a teacher, I know that I should be equipped with enough knowledge on the culture each of my students represents so that regardless of eyes and skin colors, I would be able to motivate them to learn with me. Therefore, I see a special subject being introduced to my students in next ten years. This subject is a special discourse on culture and diversity. Instead of studying history of the world, perhaps, learning about the different cultural sectors in the world would bring students farther, but closer. It brings them farther because they would easily welcome crossing the border to mingle with people whose skin and eyes are not like theirs.
Knowledge on various cultures can also bring students closer, which means that they could build more relationships with people having different sets of values and culture. Dilworth & Brown (2001) define diversity in the context of “students’ ethnicity, language, and academic abilities” (qtd. in Bower, 2008, p. 181) but Bower believes that diversity goes beyond those measures. To speak of multicultural sector, according to Kissen (2002) and Ray (2005), is to include sexual orientation and family structure of each member of the society (qtd.
in Bower, 2008, p. 181). In this sense, I see the value of learning and appreciating cultures of the world. Learning these should start at a young age so in the next ten years, the “global village” will open more doors to the students. To make learning cultural diversity, I have to expose my students to various cultures. This requires the school to engage in exchange programs and other activities that would encourage foreign students to enroll or at least spend some time interacting with my students.
Leung, Maddux, Galinsky & Chiu (2008) found out in their studies that “extensiveness of multicultural experiences was positively related to both creative performance (insight learning, remote association, and idea generation) and creativity-supporting cognitive processes (retrieval of unconventional knowledge, recruitment of ideas from unfamiliar cultures for creative idea expansion)” (p. 169). This change in the content will also prepare teachers like me to deconstruct our own biases for and against particular cultures.
Understanding diversity of my students can actually make me become “more open to acknowledge the oppression humans suffer because of their differences. When authentic acknowledgement occurs, empathy and behaviors change” (O’Hara, 2006, p. 39). I understand that empathy can go a long way in this field where I am into right now. Aside from equipping the students in their understanding of various cultures, the next ten years would also bring corporate social responsibility to the kids’ classroom. At present, social responsibility is expected only from companies and professionals who are in the business sectors.
However, with the diversity in classroom and the loss of geographical borderline, students should be taught, at their young age, to “feel responsible” for the attainment of global satisfaction. In the first place, why do teachers who engage in advanced studies conduct research and organize fora and conferences about poverty reduction in a society, if the teachers themselves will not make their students aware of what we can do to help alleviate poverty and to help sending more children to school? The truth is that we cannot operate by isolating ourselves from the outside world.
As Robert Weisbuch, president of Drew University, puts it, “”If you have faculty in a closed faculty lounge making all the policy about a doctorate without any thought of the outside world, then they will suffer from a certain degree of claustrophobia” ( Graduate Schools, 2005). I guess, the sense of social responsibility should start at a young age when kids are still forming their values and priorities in life. If the kids grow up just “minding their own business” and not caring about others, then it can be harder to make them care in the future.
Kids have to know that responsibility does not come with age and that all of us are entitled to give assistance to those who need it. Education in the next decade is not about giving information to the students because many of the information or facts can be accessed through the Internet and other forms of media. What those tools can’t do is to develop emotional intelligence among the kids. This is where teachers like us are needed. It is for this reason that we, teachers, are not about to become obsolete in the presence of highly digital world.
Now, who and what will influence the idea of teaching cultural diversity and culture to the young kids? The answer to this brings us back to the curricular changes that I predict to happen in the next ten years which are somehow already evident today. Of course, the change in curriculum content is dependent on any trend in education. THE HANDS AND MINDS THAT WILL SHAPE THE CURRICULUM All education stakeholders must convene and make critical decision on how the curriculum could possibly address current situation. These stakeholders include the school administration, the heads, teachers, student representatives, and the parents.
Without any doubt, “Teachers must be involved in the curriculum design process” (Teachers Must Have a Say, 2008). Teachers’ participation can help in making the curriculum more responsive to the realities in the classroom taking into consideration several factors like diversity, student abilities, time constraints, resources limitations, etc. Curriculum reform must be taken seriously because according to Cuban (1998), it is a “critical element of the larger educational reform agenda and offers tremendous potential for classroom-level impact”( qtd. in Little, et. al.
, 2007, p. 272). MY ROLE IN CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT AND ITS IMPACT ON MY BEING AN EDUCATOR First of all, being a part of curriculum development is an opportunity for me to have a say on how the children will be molded and how they will be prepared in facing the future. My seven-year experience with the kids made me more aware of what these kids long for and what exactly they need to learn in order for them to become more competent, disciplined and less vulnerable. I see the need to protect the young minds from the deceptive realities that technology brings to them.
If technology is here to stay and in a few years will become much more advanced, then my primary role is to guide the children in choosing which sources of information they should accept as reliable and honest. I don’t see myself giving facts to my students. This fact-search can be done easily through technology. However, finding the facts is what’s quite complicated for my students. They need guidance on evaluating sources of information. This is the quest for ICT literacy and even media literacy. I know that students no longer treat teachers like me as the sole source of information.
In fact, the Internet can offer more. It can actually store more information and give more update to the students. The kids know this because some of them are more adept in technology use than most of their teachers. If there is one thing that teachers like me can do in terms of curriculum design, then it must be not forgetting the purpose of education the relevance of curriculum to children’s needs. The curriculum may be excellent and responsive to the demands of the future but failure to communicate the relevance of the curriculum to the students is the biggest mistake teachers can make. Bimonte (2005) says:
Education for the future must emphasize active learning over passive receptivity, the use of multiple resources instead of single texts, a global perspective, and an understanding of how different people learn best. Teachers must operate from a mindset that emphasizes possibilities rather than problems, responsibility to the community over independence and systematic thinking (p. 6). Despite the fast-changing education landscape, I am still in school interacting with the young minds which are all full of hope that tomorrow brings more challenges, more opportunities and deeper understanding of why I don’t give up on any of my students.
The advertisement on the Discovery Channel must be right: “Behind every man is a potential waiting for a trigger. ” I wake up every single day hoping that I can be the “trigger” of the overwhelming potential that each student has. No curriculum can match my passion and experiences in this field. After all, this is exactly what technology and the abstract culture don’t have: a heart that beats only for the kids. This heart makes me a teacher in the past, at present, and tomorrow. This is not about to change even in the next ten years. REFERENCES Bimonte, R.
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