Coleman's expressions

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

So, What is Curriculum?

Curriculum is content, in simplistic terms. Then, what is content and is curriculum really limited to content? Content is the substance or meaning of our learning, but I do think that narrowness of just “subject matter” is limiting and tunnel-vision. The definition that suits me best is (naturally!) a combination: Curriculum is “the weaving together of subject matter (“both intended and unintended” – from Sowell, E.), the statement of the ends (objectives/goals), sequencing of content, and preassessment of entry skills required of students when they begin the study of content.” – from Gagne, R.

This definition is more reflective of my teaching and learning as it includes a
  • wholistic view (looking at more than traditional content, including that inadvertent information or environmental/social influences)

  • a systematic approach (I’ve always included standards/objectives and being fairly linear, mapped out a trail of some sort – even if there are diversions – though I don’t always like the ‘prescriptive-like’ nature), and

  • the scaffolding needed to try to meet diversity while still instructing groups (a learner-centered model, though not pure by any means).

Upon further review of Gagne’s Conditions of Learning, I realize that he is somewhat eclectic, as well. His work stretches across behaviorism, cognition, and constructivism! Although he doesn’t appear to tap into the social side of constructivism, he does represent a bridge among realism, idealism, and pragmatism – at least from my perspective!

Self-assessment is an effective starting point for considering one’s own philosophy on education. Each time I take those tests, I’m finding something else to reflect upon. My “types” ended up pretty much the same as they always do, but I always re-discover an area of myself that I’ve neglected for awhile, so it brings it back to focus. It occurs to me as I write this post that my formal educational background in psychology and counseling and that my experiences in education (both teaching and learning) indeed influence my philosophy and views on curriculum. There is a solid underpinning, but due to my nature of change, I’m indeed flexible to incorporate new ideas and concepts!


  • Marie,

    I loved how you said "I always re-discover an area of myself that I’ve neglected for awhile" - regarding the self-assessments. I felt the same way. Things turned out the same as they always have, but I suddenly became aware of those things that I neglect and I work for a while to get myself "fixed-up". For some things, I am satisfied by saying, that's just the way I am - but for other things, I KNOW they need to be changed.

    The students you work with will appreciate the balance you work so hard to provide!

    By Blogger Lynn, at 3/15/2006 3:50 PM  

  • Marie-

    Like Lynn said, every time I take some of the online tests I'm amazed how how a few questions can pinpoint my personalities and tendancies to a "T".
    One thing I think is really important about these self assessments also echoes Lynn: you have to be willing to accept and appreciate certain traits and be willing to recognize areas that need improvement.

    By Blogger Ms. Lambard, at 3/15/2006 4:42 PM  

  • I can tell by reading your posting on curriculum that you are a good teacher. So many that I have come across are unaccepting of change (and unwilling to make any changes). Since you say it's in your nature to be open to it I can tell you have what it takes to bring technology into your curriculum. But then again, who am I to say so? haha

    Your assessment of curriculum is excellent. I too believe it is an all encompassing summarization of what happens in the classroom for teachers and students. Anything less falls short.

    Your blog is great to read.

    By Blogger Derek Thomas, at 3/17/2006 10:05 AM  

  • I also find the self-assessments interesting. Mine has changed alittle since college. I think it is good that working and becoming a mother have changed me at least to some degree. It would be weird to be unaffected by so much. I also like knowing that we are not "stuck". I believe we have parts of our nature that would be very hard maybe impossible to change, but I like having parts I think I can work on and change.


    By Blogger Rachel, at 3/18/2006 4:35 PM  

  • Marie,

    As always, I learned from your post.

    It was good to be reminded of Gagne's theory, I had forgotten about the "nine instructional events," but realize it's a part of what I do every day.

    After reading what you had to say, I would have to agree about the "intended and unintended." Do you think of curriculum as the end result or the intended? Just curious.


    By Blogger Greg Yurish, at 3/19/2006 1:19 PM  

  • I am right there with you on your definition of curriculum and I really appreciate what Sowell had to say, as what we learn by accident or in addition to what was intended has an importance of its own.

    I can relate to the flexibility issue as well. As someone who was once rigid in my views, I have come to understand just how conter-productive this can be when it comes to providing a meaningful educational experience to a diverse group of learners. Kudos to the kind lady!

    By Blogger James Harris, at 3/19/2006 5:18 PM  

  • Marie,
    I read your post with awe and wonder. Your connections to the theories and theorists were eloquent. I definitely see the psychology studies coming through.

    I too saw the self-assessments as enlightening instead of lengthy. I was almost disappointed when I was finished. I wanted more. I did "rediscover" some things about myself, but mostly I feel that consistency in results is an affirmation of a solid personality. I know that one's traits and styles can change somewaht as you experience new things in life, but overall I don't think a "real" person really changes. And, that to me is a relief!

    By Blogger katye, at 3/19/2006 5:30 PM  

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