- According to the Levin article, how are school curricula developed and implemented? What new information/perspectives does this reading provide about the development and implementation of school curriculum? Is there anything that surprises you or maybe that concerns you?
According to Levin’s “Curriculum Policy,” curriculum and politics are closely associated with each other. Curriculum is both important and contentious in public discourse, and that makes it political. Opinions vary widely on how schools should use their precious contact hours with children and adolescents. In the past, curriculum was the purview of experts and largely inaccessible to the general public. It tended to be rigidly tied to the core disciplines and slow to change. The new methodology is to involve parents and representatives of the public into the decision-making process. (18). This has resulted in the curriculum becoming more in tune with current social issues. Since mostly everyone in contemporary society has had school experiences of one kind or another, most everyone correspondingly feels entitled to weigh in on debates over curriculum and pedagogy. All of these factors put immense pressure on those charged with designing and revising school curriculums. The situation is complicated further by the fact that time and resource constraints place limits on how much can be achieved in curriculum review cycles. Presently, with COVID-19, schools had to make quick and dirty adjustments to curriculum. To sum up, modern curriculum formulation involves “a wide range of interest groups” (16) and is therefore complicated and contentious. One thing that concerns me is that the focus on wide ranging parent and community involvement might create a problem of ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’. How can curriculum planning be cohesive and integrated when the number of planners becomes considerable?
- After reading pages 1-4 of the Treaty Education document, what connections can you make between the article and the implementation of Treaty Education in Saskatchewan? What tensions might you imagine were part of the development of the Treaty Education curriculum?
One important distinction is that the First Nations are described as part of “sovereign nations,” which validates their background and culture. Also, the Treaty Education document sets the important aim that all Grade 12 students develop “a deep understanding of (the first) peoples’ identity which encompasses: languages, ceremonies, worldviews, and relationships to place and the land” (4). In a way the document highlights Levin’s idea that curriculum and politics are closely bound to one another. As First Nations’ rights and histories occupy an increasingly important place in national conversations, so too is the case in education. This is a significant change and improvement over how indigenous issues were regarded and handled in the past. Until recently, the colonial past was taught only from the perspective of the colonizers, and the negative impact upon indigenous peoples was ignored or glossed over. Of course, the decolonization of the curriculum and of pedagogy is far from complete. But since the 2015 report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada there has been considerable progress in reconceptualizing the approach taken towards Canada’s indigenous peoples. The changes did not come easily. As Levin states, changing the curriculum is a steep mountain to climb because of political and practical factors. The insertion of new content requires the removal of existing content, and that inevitably draws strong opposition. Curriculum review requires time, patience, and much goodwill.
Levin, B. (2008). Curriculum policy and the politics of what should be learned in schools. In F. Connelly, M. He & J. Phillion (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of curriculum and instruction (pp. 7 – 24). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.Available on-line from: http://www.corwin.com/upm-data/16905_Chapter_1.pdf.
Saskatchewan Treaty Education document: Saskatchewan Treaty Education document