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Curriculum Development

Question

(Value Essay): essay reflecting on educational issues. Write an essay with 1000 words (4 pages) expressing your viewpoint and supporting it with reasons. Cite a minimum of 6 academic sources. The essay bottom part needs to cite the links from academic sources.

Answer

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Different scholars have different viewpoints on whether the curriculum should be standardized for all students or not. Adler argues that it is good to dictate education on learners to the extent that emphasis is put on courses that are critical to success in life (19). On the other hand, Holt argues that children should be given the option of choosing the type of education that they want (26). Marzanothinks that Adler is right; that some courses are required by all students, regardless of their preferences (6). Marzano, however, adds that some electives should be made available so that students can make choices. (8).

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I agree with Adler’s views that education should be dictated on all children. This is because children have a limited view of the world around them. If given the choice between “difficult” and “simple” subjects, they would opt for the easier option. If given a chance to choose whether to go to school or to hang out in the neighborhoods, the majority would opt for the latter. In other words, standardizing education makes learners, especially in elementary and middle school levels, governable. Teachers have an easy task of organizing a curriculum that is standardized. Using this approach, it even becomes easy to assess learners.

Adler even proposes a Paideia Curriculum. This is a curriculum that is designed to provide lessons to children through coaching, lecturing, and enlightenment (20). The courses offered are restricted to the ones that are critical in the attainment of outcomes as envisioned in the Paideia Curriculum. Adler offers a fixed frame of reference, which, he says, offers a good guideline on what an ideal curriculum should operate. This kind of education, he argues, would provide a myriad of opportunities for the creation of 21st-century leaders.

Although I do not agree completely with the framework that Adler (1982) proposes, I agree with him that it is very important for teachers and curriculum designers to define expectations for all students at all levels of education. I also agree with Adler that the teachers who exist today are not fully equipped to reform modern schools through the method that he proposes (22). Marzanoconcurs with Adler that there is a need for children to be given an education that is guaranteed, viable and which forms a firm, solid basis for the generation of academic grades (7).

The main reason why the curriculum was standardized in the first place was to provide guidelines and consistency, thereby giving all students an equal opportunity to be assessed uniformly after being exposed to similar learning processes for a certain predetermined duration of academic study. Using this approach, it was expected that the concept of yearly progression in learning would easily be grasped by all learners, creating efficiency in the lifelong process of dispensing and acquiring knowledge.

Marzanoargues that the guidelines given to students need to be narrowed down to certain most critical topics, which should constitute about 20% of all the time that is spent in school, mainly through elective or specialized courses (9). This argument seems plausible to me as long as most of the time spent on specialized courses is concentrated, as much as possible, to the last years of education preceding entry into college. For instance, senior high school students may be allowed to choose about 30% of the courses that they are interested in. This is because making such a choice prepares them for crucial future decisions on the degree programs they will pursue at the university level.

The main reason why specialized courses are not good for students, according to Holt, is that the learners do not yet have a clear picture of the career lines that they would like to pursue (29). Whatever ideas they may have about certain careers are bits of information and/or semi-coherent advice given by peers, parents, hangers-on, neighbors, and teachers.

Those teachers who argue that giving students the freedom to choose the courses that they would like to take motivates these learners may be suspected of being unable to organize their learners well within the existing curricular. Equating such type of freedom to democracy, according to Marston is a serious intellectual mistake (79). Children should never be given complete control over such life-changing decisions as those involving provision of education. This is not to say that it is impossible to instill virtues of democracy in youngsters; these virtues do not necessarily have to be instilled in high-level decisions relating to policy. The youngsters puts in McNeil, are not yet mature enough to contribute to matters of policy (76). Instead, it is the role of teachers to ensure that learners act democratically within whatever type of curricular exposure that they get. In entirely agree with these views.

Children do not understand anything about the strategies that teachers use in order to facilitate the transmission of knowledge, at least not in the pragmatic sense of this concept. They are yet to accumulate enough knowledge of the world that is sufficient to form a basis of crucial decision making. A child, in most cases, does not understand the different choices that are available; therefore suggesting the concept of democratic choice is both irrational and unrealistic.

An elementary-level child has very limited ideas about education, at least as far as adults are concerned. The most that they can say about education is that they hate school, they like, they hate the mathematics teacher, the hate the English teacher, and such like things. When viewed in a social context, the views that children express are an indication of whether the existing curriculum is being used to maximum effect not.  The responsibility of parents is to help their children overcome the dangerous or threatening environment. Exposure to a standardized education does not threaten any child’s life. The obvious exception that is exemplified through special education for the disabled is very acceptable.

Holt observes that the school environment tends to be more demanding than the real-life environment (28). This is mainly because learners are expected to follow strict routines relating to adhering to class lesson timetables, completion of assignments, the perfection of hygiene-related school duties and time-consciousness in reporting to school and leaving school. By giving such a description, Holt puts into the limelight the value of standardization in early childhood education (28). Any learner who overcomes these challenges becomes a better person in life and is fit to face the disorderly world outside school.

As Holtrightly states, parents can take vacations without asking for permission from school (27). Unwise parents may wonder why it seems suicidal for a child to do the same thing. I believe that school curricular should not be liberalized as a way of satisfying the needs of children, as some parents would want to see happen, in the name of ensuring that their children are happy. Parents have a right, obligation and responsibility to protect their children. One way of achieving this goal is giving the child an opportunity to learn how to be discipline through education. As a child approaches the legal age, he should be weaned into the real world of tough choices by being given an opportunity to choose some of the courses while being mandatorily expected to continue with others.

Tanner observes that continuous reforms in the education sector are jeopardizing innovation since the result in a shift from the real cause of the problems that clog the education sector (20).  One of the reforms that Tanner’s observation encompasses is that of curricular. Although his main area of interest is standardized testing in a sharp reaction to a request by policymakers for evidence of learning, he mentions several points that apply in the case of a standardized curriculum as well. Strict standardization, he says, wipes out applicability and creativity mainly because of monotonous teaching that is test-oriented. Although his argument is valid, teachers can keep on changing their teaching methodology in order to break the monotony. I believe the problem of loss of creativity starts with teachers, (not the curriculum) who pass it on to their students.

In conclusion, I strongly believe that the curriculum should be standardized for all. I believe that at no point in schooling should there be no any form of standardization. Through standardization, performance can be determined accurately, thereby creating a healthy academic competition among learners at all levels of learning.

References

Adler, Mortimer.  The Paideia Proposal: Rediscovering the essence of education.  In James Wm. Noll, Taking Sides; Clashing Views on Educational Issues. 18-24. Dubuque:  McGraw-Hill, 1982.

Holt, John. (1974). “Escape from childhood”.  In James Wm. Noll, Taking sides; clashing views on educational issues. 25-29. Dubuque:  McGraw-Hill.

Marston, Douglas.  “Measuring Pupil Progress: A Comparison of Standardized Achievement Tests and Curriculum-Related Measures” Assessment for Effective Intervention, 11.2, (1986): 77-90

Marzano, Robert.“In Search of the Standardized Curriculum”.  Principal, 81.5(2002): 6-9.

McNeil, Linda. “Contradictions of School Reform: Educational Costs of Standardized Testing” Journal of Educational Change, 2.1 (2001): 75-78

Tanner, Laurel. “Critical Issues in Curriculum Revisited”.  The Educational Forum, 65.8 (2000):16-21.

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