As I saw it before reading.
Coming from a family of teachers, principals and administrators, I had a fairly good idea of the field of education and the process of development of curriculum. I knew that the process was led by politicians and other vested groups in power who wanted to propagate their viewpoint. Democratic leverage was also used to exclude certain topics or viewpoints from the curriculum. Ordinary teachers did not have any say in the process. However as society continues to evolve and with changes in teaching philosophies, I am quite intrigued with the process, especially here in Canada.
As I see it now
The development of a curriculum is a complex process. It is typically driven as a top-down approach where the politicians in power decide the overall framework. Public policy also has a place within this process. Political agendas drive the process. As an example a politician who wants to promote more private schools may insist on an overall policy that allows tailored curriculum for such schools. We know that political promises do not always tell the full story. A politician will promise the best school system at zero cost impact and get elected to power. That does not mean that the promises will be met. The voters may want good schools and everything best for the students but not be willing to provide the funding for this. They may not agree to higher taxes to support this education.
The development of internet has democratized all aspects of life, this includes development of public policy on education. Everybody who had an education considers themselves an expert in the field and wants to provide their anecdotal input even if it may not be backed by evidence across the field. Often these views may be contradicting each other and sometimes within themselves. At other times we see beliefs trump facts. An example is when certain groups want curriculum to state evolution is just a theory with the same status as the alternative intelligent creation theory. Though we are fortunate that we do not have people requesting the teaching of alchemy alongside chemistry or astrology alongside astronomy, or tarot card reading alongside meteorology as a legitimate science? Yet this is the kind of debate we see in public policy. We may also see objections to progressive ideas by grassroots groups that want to prolong traditional definitions of society based on religious ideologies. All of this is part of public policy debate.
Amongst other people who have influence on the process are the teachers within the K-12 program. It is not realistic to expect all teachers to be at the same level of expertise to address the development of curriculum. Most teachers are too busy with day-to-day activities and unable to have that long-term perspective that is needed for developing a curriculum. However they are closest to the ground on how curriculum will be rolled out as well as its day to day challenges and their input is crucial to the process. They also have flexibility to decide what topics need emphasis and how much time to devote to it.
Then there are the post-secondary experts who present their minimum requirements for students coming out of K-12 so as to be able to pursue further education. We also have business needs that will drive the requirement for final product of what comes out of the education system.
Finally there are the bureaucrat administrators and subject specialists who get down to the nitty gritty of this process and mostly determine the final product. Ministry of Education and the Board decide the framework-objectives of the syllabus and how it can be implemented in schools within the province. Expert specialized teachers in certain subjects decide the content and the units (science, history, and math) to be taught in the class. . They take into consideration the basic standard across the province –literacy and math, general abilities, along with other subjects, keeping in mind basic education, specialized course in high school and the support for future professional specialization. The curriculum also addressees social point of view during class. Example –Topics such as Sex-Ed, Consent, Privacy, Cyber bullying, Sexting, Bullying etc.
This process is a continually evolving process as decision drives public opinion and objections. Non-related events may also cause changes. Even though the process is spread out and decision making requires review by many people it must be remembered that the process is finally driven by the systems in place and the few people who put pen to paper. A lot of the topics are never really discussed by the broad community involved in this process. This reminds me of the TV show “Yes Minister” where the bureaucrats would finally decide everything based on their own judgement and to maintain the status quo. If the Minister ever wanted to do something else, they would point out the political fallout and the Minister would back down.
I was looking at a recent news article that a study of 27000 people in USA found 2/3rd of them support equality of women! What was the reason for the remaining 1/3rd to believe that women are inferior! What kind of education system provides for the continued sustenance of a medieval mindset?
The Canadian Constitution provides a charter right for only certain Christian denominations to have a religion based school system. Yet in our political drive for inclusivity, we see religion based schools for other groups too where the objective is to ensure the continuation of cultural traditions and religious teachings. If particular groups of religious minorities (Muslims, Hindus or Christians) are now enjoying the liberty of having their own private schools, how does civil society ensure that the religious teachings are not contradicting constitutional rights in the minds of the young? As an educator how can one teach equality and freedom where students are categorized into groups based on their religion? Religion based teaching carries with it medieval philosophies including separation of sexes, inferiority of women, slavery, justification for genocide, divinity of rulers, us vs them for other religionists and non-believers, superiority over others, LGBTQ discrimination, marriage rights, casteism and so on. How does the curriculum framework allow for progressive ideas to disseminate across the new generation without being restricted by artificial boundaries imposed by religious schools?
As a teacher and with the insight that I continue to gain in this field, I am quite keen to be involved in the development of curriculum. I want help define the Next Generation and attempt to create a better society that allows for gender equality, racial equality, diversity and respect for all ethnicities. When looking at Charter rights, my concern is that it may be part of the curriculum but not actively examined, emphasized and imbibed by the students to take away with them as a part of their Canadian identity.
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