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What curriculum should I adopt in my school?

Updated: Sep 6, 2023



This is a million-dollar question that school administrators and owners muse over for hours on end. Making an informed decision is critical to the success of any learning organization. Here are my two cents.


In the context of curriculum development, Wiles (2009) defines philosophy as “a formal set of statements about the purpose of educating” (p. 14). As an educator, I believe it is important to have a firm understanding of the core values you want to promote in any learning organization, in order to safeguard a holistic approach and cater to a diverse student body. We have come to understand that we need novel ways of thinking to cope with the demands of the 21st century (Kereluik et al., 2013). Our school curriculum should therefore reflect this understanding.


As schools worldwide are becoming more culturally diverse, my philosophy is that curriculum objectives and learning outcomes should be customized to accommodate local context, enabling schools to evolve into culturally proficient learning organizations where every student is empowered to succeed. This suggests that individual schools must be deliberate about the work of the curriculum department. State and district standards for academic attainment (for example) should be the guidelines for establishing academic benchmarks, however, the school’s agreed set of values needs to permeate the curriculum, as this becomes its distinguishing factor. This further suggests that the choice of a curriculum leader is extremely important, as this individual must work collaboratively with the curriculum department, and with all other stakeholders within the school community. Standards for instructional strategies, assessment, academic achievement, extracurricular learning opportunities, behaviour expectations, and social relevance or citizenship, should be delineated within the school curriculum.


The school curriculum is therefore a living document that evolves with the passage of time. As research into students’ learning styles, learning pathways, and career choices emerges, every school needs to remain relevant to the members of its community. There is no point in teaching students in a writing class to use the old typewriters for example, as those items have become the ‘dinosaurs of published material’. The core writing skills can still be taught, and students can learn to publish material using 21st-century methods and tools. Schools need to remain relevant to, and valued by, the students they cater to.

This then highlights two questions of relevance: Who is driving curriculum development within your learning organization? Is it truly up to an individual, a curriculum department, or a school to define what is 'relevant' to their students?


Dr. Joy Isa


References

Kereluik, K. k., Mishra, P. p., Fahnoe, C. f., & Terry, L. t. (2013). What Knowledge Is of Most Worth: Teacher Knowledge for 21st Century Learning. Journal Of Digital Learning In Teacher Education (International Society For Technology In Education), 29(4), 127-140.

Wiles, J. (2009). Leading curriculum development. Corwin Press.

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