Important for All the Wrong Reasons
Curricular control in the public school America has incrementally moved away from the influence of the classroom teacher and districts. Knight’s (2006) tolling of the tocsin in 2006 decrying teacher education, qualifications and experiences of decision makers, and a pervading mindlessness as “a natural outcome for a society which has traditionally been concerned with the “how” rather than the “why” of modern life” (Kindle Locations 216 – 218) echoes still today. The goals and values embedded into the curriculum have shifted from the needs and cultural influences of the locality to the whims of the state and federal government competing in a global market. Standardized testing of curriculum has eroded this influence. Through the accountability of a test that directly impacts district funding, teacher evaluation, and teacher retention is anesthetizing and narrowing the school curricula. Therefore the importance of the curriculum has changed from learning to accountability and skill mastery. Curriculum is designed through adherence to standards that are aligned to the test. Leaving little choice over curricula.
Without a Sail
The absence of a curriculum is a direct line to maleficence in today’s classroom. A plan must be made, matched to an outcome, and assessed accordingly. This matched outcome is grounded in Knight’s (2006) definition of learning as a “new or changed behavior” (Kindle Location 327). Even in my personal beliefs toward today’s curricula in this political environment – something is better than nothing. Lacking a plan leaves the teacher unchecked and an inability to qualify or quantify the learning. Left to the whims of a teacher without a plan, students will be trapped in the likes, share in the teacher's dislikes, and never explore their own passions, interests, and philosophies.
Towards the future
The philosophical underpinnings of today’s curricula need reevaluation and reconsideration. The why needs to be explored in the absence of a political agenda and a national fear. The pendulum of the how has streamlined access to resources, efficiency and tool integration in the 21st Century. Towards the future, the balancing between the why and how must occur. In doing so, a philosophical influence will buoy an emergence of critical thinkers able to minister grace.
Knight, G. R. (2006). Philosophy & education: An introduction in Christian perspective (4th ed.) Andrews University Press. Kindle Edition.