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Week 13 Blog Post: Curriculum and Instruction

 

 

In Virginia public schools teachers are required to adhere to the guidelines of instruction and curriculum, the Standards of Learning. SOL’s are usually tested at the end of the year or instructional semester and are cumulative and will include the material outlined by the State. thus severely shaping curriculum framework.  These series of instructional requirements are generally what tend to shape a guide curriculum framework within each individual class.  Public education in the United States may vary across state lines, however it seems as though many states have their own framework to stay within.  While it may be difficult for teachers to change up the kinds of curriculum and instruction due to such drawn lines, there is flexibility in the ways teachers deliver the required content—just because the state enforces material needed to be taught does not mean that teachers hands are bound by one set way to teach.  The beauty of studying curriculum and instruction is that there are many different types that can be more or less useful to teachers and schools across the United States depending on personal and professional preferences.

 Student-Centered

 Subject-Centered

 

Two types of curriculum our class textbook discussed are subject-centered and student-center approaches.

I’m sure both approaches are found intermingled throughout many schools around the country because of the nature of their philosophy.  Most proponents of subject centered approaches argue that subjects “present a logical basis for organizing and interpreting information, that teachers are trained as subject matter specialists, and that textbooks are other teaching materials are usually organized by subjects” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 434).  Subject-centered curriculums usually involve specific and distinct subjects such as Math, Science, Language Arts, and Social Studies.  Instructional emphasis on subject center curriculum includes academic excellence through specialized knowledge and essential skills, along with academic rigor.  Subject centered curriculum is automatically integrated into public schools (in the case of this blog, Virginia schools) on the premise that SOL’s must be taught to prepare students to successfully pass the test, for fear of the child being held back, the school missing AYP or teachers losing their jobs.  It only seems logical that subject center curriculum, as long as there are standards of learning, will remain ingrained into the public school system.  Personally, I feel that dividing up curriculum into subjects is an effective way to organize lesson plans into coherent units, making it easier on the student and teacher to teach students in the classroom.  While I find subject centered curriculum and academic excellence extremely relevant and important to have in today’s public schools, I still feel a strong affinity towards student-centered curriculum.  A student-centered curriculum emphasizes student interests and need.  Implementers of student-center curricula generally believe that “when the interests and needs of learners were incorporated into the curriculum, students would e intrinsically motivated and learning would be more successful” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 437). Student-centered curricula emphasize student activities, student experiences, affective processes, democratic values, choice and freedom (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 444).  The overarching theme of student-centered approaches emphasize that students should have the freedom to have fun and learn about subjects they are interested in.  It makes perfect sense to me that the more interested you are in something, the more motivated one is to learn, and the more successful you are to be in that subject.  Student-centered approaches lay the opportunity for students to be genuinely interested in what they learn.

Personally, I find advantages to both subject and student-centered curricula.  I am an organized person by default so I like the structure that comes along with subject-oriented curriculum.  I think that it is still important to teach children the basic skills that come along with the main academics such as reading, writing, mathematics, and a general knowledge of the world.  These kinds of subjects will prepare students to think critically about the world around them while still maintaining structure in the classroom.  However, I see no problem with combining content-area materials that interests students.  There are many different ways a 21st century educator can teach his or her students.  Technology has opened up a world of possibilities including video chats, virtual tours, touch-interface technology and multimedia that students of today are interested in.  A good teacher can easily provide 3 or 4 choices of lessons for each student and incorporate relevant and authentic ties to the academic subjects they are learning.  If a teacher can make a student understand why academics are relevant to their lives and their future, students will naturally become more engaged in the classroom.  As a “to-be” elementary school teacher, I hope that I will be able to incorporate the two approaches.  I understand that there is to be struggle, but I am willing to risk it for the benefits of my students.

My main take away from last week’s class, in-class discussion, and reading is that there is no one “right” way to teach nor one “correct” way to develop curriculum and instruction.  There are advantages and disadvantages to every approach and a successful teacher should be able to test out new ideas they may have to curriculum and instruction approaches—knowing that teaching is a journey of its own that requires trial and error and reflective practices in order to prevail for your students.

 Reference

Ornstein, A. C., Levine, D. U., & Gutek, G. L. (2011). Foundations of Education   (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

~ by hgluchow on .

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