Posted on 04/13/2015 at 01:27 PM by Liz Determan

I have worked with a number of schools on the curriculum mapping process but have rarely seen districts do the level of questioning, review and revision of their curriculum to really make a difference in the educational experience of their students.  It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to change what and how we teach.  The longer we have been in this profession, the more difficult it becomes.  And yet, as professional educators, we face an ethical dilemma if we continue to teach outdated and irrelevant content that ill-prepares our students for life beyond our K-16 educational systems.  Below is a segment from Heidi Hayes Jacobs work with several colleagues to challenge the curriculum that is present in many of our schools.  

“Members of Curriculum 21 review or inquiry teams need to carefully consider each discipline or, if they choose, multiple disciplines in their curriculum maps from a K-12 perspective.  In the Curriculum Mapping Review Model (Jacobs, 1997, 2004), school teams regularly review maps vertically and across grade levels to solve a problem and research potential places for revision, which may be focused on gap analysis, eliminating redundancies, or aligning with standards.  In this case, the Curriculum 21 team reviews the content entries on maps specifically to address these tenets for upgrading:
•    A global perspective is developed and presented in the content areas, where natural and viable.
•    A personal and local perspective is cultivated so that each student can create relevant links to the content.
•    The whole child’s academic, emotional, physical, and mental development is thoughtfully considered in content choices.
•    The possibilities for future career and work options are developed with an eye to creative and imaginative directions.
•    The disciplines are viewed dynamically and rigorously as growing and integrating in real-world practice.
•    Technology and media are used to expand possible sources of content so that active as well as static materials are included.
•    The complexity of the content is developmentally matched to the age and stage of the learner.

The focus for a Curriculum 21 content review team is to question, to raise specific challenges, and to generate provocations, with the goal of upgrading and targeting content replacements based on strong principles and tenets.  The overall goal is to replace dated content with dynamic and current material.”

H.H. Jacobs. “Curriculum 21:  Essential Education for a Changing World”. 2010. ASCD.


Is this how your school/district’s curriculum review is handled?  If not, what would it take to shift to this work?  What would be the value to our students?

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