Sunday, March 9, 2008

Will this be on the test?

OK, dharter, you win.

I had discovered the thrill of blogging while taking Jeff's class. Then work realities hit, and blogging just wasn't a "priority" anymore. But in this beautifully interconnected universe, I could no longer bear a most recent post touting my my mom's new Christmas Nano.

As I prepare for my first ASCD convention, I wonder what lies ahead for curriculum and curriculum mapping. I can't deny that technological advances make our lives more accessible to more people and information more accessible to us, but accessibility doesn't change the substance of our needs or needed skills.

Working with educators rather than students provides many opportunities for questioning the path of education. Nonetheless, our technology shouldn't dictate the content of what we teach; it is merely a tool to accelerate our discovery learning.

Wiggins and McTighe use etymology in understanding curriculum - as the course to be run, given a desired endpoint. Until there are near-metaphysical changes in our destination (i.e., an academic degree leading to a job/career to support exisitence on earth), there will not be lasting change in the preparation toward this end - commonly known as k-12 education.

Richard Bach's biplane view of life offers winding roads filled with alternatives. He offers that Learning is finding out what you already know. Education should not restrict the path that students use in this discovery, but they need an aerial view of where the "course to run" is leading them

It is misleading, no matter how many different jobs a 21st Century student may face, to coax our students into believing that mastery of the traditional core subjects is anything other than necessary. How we lead them to discover those fundamentals can eternally morph, but without the possession of the knowledge and skills essential in a math, science, language, and arts education - traditional long before the industrial age - remains essential.

1 comment:

D. Harter said...

Welcome back to blogging!

Comments like yours and others are exactly what I was hoping for when I posted my question.

I would never undermine our curriculum with students, but I would encourage them to question and critically evaluate what they do and why they do it. I don't believe that any curriculum coordinator or educator would not value these qualities in a student when used appropriately and in the best interest of their learning.

I do worry that we too often accept and offer the response that we teach the content curriculum we do because kids need it to get into college and then get a good job. Surely there must be a better defense than this - despite the undeniable practicality of that answer.

I taught math. So I am more than used to the "when am I ever going to use this" question. And I had an answer. It's about a way of thinking. It's about processing and solving problems. It's about understanding and being amazed by a human-created system/language that incredibly explains and predicts our universe. It's about logic and creativity and ultimately about thinking.

I don't believe that technology should "dictate the content of what we teach." In fact, technology has little to do with it other than as the tool you suggest. Instead, I believe (along with most curriculum directors and teachers) that we need to value thinking, communicating, and collaborating skills. These will become incredibly important to separate the successful in a world in which "content knowledge" is more and more accessible at the click of a button. (In truth, these skills have always been important.) That we need to embed in all children's education safe and responsible use of these tools that have the power to harm just as they have the power to connect.

I wonder/question whether we need a traditional curriculum based on content and valuing these skills or instead should we not have a curriculum that focuses on ensuring we create thinkers, communicators, and collaborators, in the context of traditional content curriculum that we value.

I don't know the answer...but I love the conversation and I am happy to have started/continued the discussion with other smart educators (like yourself) who can offer answers.

Thanks for joining in!