Practically, every school has a curriculum or syllabus. Teachers mostly develop their syllabi, and with time the curricula are amended and improved to suit the current learning trends. Some teachers are also known to adapt curricula developed by other teachers while others opt to buy prepacked syllabi to aid in designing their lessons. A curriculum may also define a particular school's requirements for one to be considered for graduation; for example the courses one has to study and pass, the minimum credits a student has to accomplish and other requirements (Romiszowsky, 2016). A curriculum, by definition, denotes to the academic content and lessons taught in a particular program or a school. In the proceeding paragraphs, we shall look at the effectiveness of a good curriculum and other issues surrounding a curriculum.
Definition of a Good Curriculum
Schools and other educational systems have a particular duty to the students and society to train the future mentees for the universe, and it is because of this reason that a quality based syllabus is crucial. All curricula that are considered to be of good quality are found on particular necessities and caliber that are usually given by a body that controls the development of a curriculum. A good curriculum serves the primary purpose of fairness and inclusivity to make it possible for students to obtain and advance the knowledge, values and skills and the connected competencies that lead to a life full of meaning and productivity (Romiszowsky et al., 2016). A good curriculum can capture and maximize the prospects for the efficacious elevation of learning.
A good quality curriculum is based on an argument that all learners are given an opportunity to study and have the capability of being victorious in the long run. In force, a typical curriculum is developed on very high expectations and should, therefore, be exhaustive to undertake. In a real sense, not everyone has a guarantee to be successful in the future. There are some who may lose sight of their educational goals in pursuit of other dreams and may or may not fail in doing so.
The purpose of a curriculum is to prepare the learners for life in the community. It should, therefore, be enterprising and develop gradually on a regular basis to cater for the needs of the learners in addition to the societal needs. My internship period at Marguerite Montgomery Elementary School has taught me that this point is indeed very relevant when it comes to the classification of a curriculum as good quality. A syllabus should not only focus on the educational part of it but also incorporate other life teachings as well.
Last but not least, a good quality curriculum should be democratically developed since it tends to the needs of not one individual but many, and all these people have differing needs. This statement implies that pedagogues who are chosen to represent all the grade levels and courses should be a part of the curriculum development so that coherency that singles out the success of every child may be achieved.
Qualities of an Effective Curriculum
An effective curriculum can elevate learners' comprehension about the society and world at large and seeks to make them ready to live and survive in the 21st century. It has the capability of increasing learners' experience and hones their consciousness and aids them in dealing with very significant issues through great literature (Boydston, 2008); become constructive citizens through the comprehension of important archaeal events and thoughts; inquire into differing perspectives and beliefs; and comprehend liberty, duty, and democracy. It also aids them in discerning how scientific inquiry values factual proof and looks for "truth."
The resulting appraisal and evaluation should be accompanied by both the method by which the learning will be assessed and the levels of quality which will apply. This implies that the outcome of every criterion of evaluating the learners should comply with the quality standards set by the curriculum for the syllabus to be considered useful.
The objective of each curriculum should comprise of learning that is: long-lasting and will be useful for a considerable period of the learners' time, important and will have a significant result on how the learner will operate. Finally, it should be transferable and can be utilized in attending to their needs in other pedagogical programs, the working world, and the learner's personal life. The objective should also be comprehensive and concise to the teaching faculty, learners, parents and the community at large.
For a curriculum to be considered useful, then its aims should be practicable for the learners and staff to achieve.
Why a Curriculum is a Contested Issue
Joseph Schwab argued that the academic syllabus lacked vitality and was in a terminal decline. During this period, researchers were only starting to realize and study the non-fulfillment of curriculum reforms in the epoch brought on by Sputnik and the National Defense Education Act from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. Given this history of the contentions in the educational curriculum, we shall explore some of the contentious issues in the curriculum today.
Politically ratified educational overhaul occurs with relative prevalence in a majority of school districts within the United States. Even though some of these politically mandated policies appear only to affect the administrative staff of the school such as alteration in the formula used to calculate the prevalence of school dropouts (Ary, 2018), other policies are publicized and gradually intrusive without any permission or right.
In the federal policies of the United States, especially those that deal with the desegregation of ethnicity and gender have shown a lot of discourse when it comes to curriculum reforms. There is a particular tension when it comes to the mending of a syllabus and its pontification and how the unease plays out. On the surface, the mandates seem to be dealing with a familiar problem of lack of adequate educational systems and putting forward a means of solving the problem by proposing the solution of the reorganization of the undergraduate degree study time from three to four years.
Incorporation of Elements in the School Curriculum by Schools and Teachers that Address the Emotional Well Being, Physical Safety and Social Justice Issues of Students
Educational institutes are the perfect places for the nurturing of skills, attitudes, and knowledge intensify personal and wholesome well-being of a student. Schools take part in various functions and activities for the welfare of its learners, especially those that are considered as an essential part of learning in schools - the events that are deemed as subsidiary activities utilized in addressing diversions to the primary objective of intellectual and academic growth (Meyer et al. 2017). A whole school point of view to learner well-being encouragement demands learner well-being promotion that is incorporated in an educational facility's policy, syllabus, practices and structures and as the allotted duty of all the contributors. The programs that have been put in place to take care of the school's issues have resulted in very positive effects.
As much as these programs could bring about positive changes in schools, the implementation process has proven to be quite taxing since the programs, for the most part, need necessary alterations in the way in which schools are run and managed.
The value of social and emotional learning (SEL) has been reviewed and by many researchers (Weissberg, 2015). There are now more than 500 assessments of the numerous types of SEL programs, and although most of the assessments' focal point is not on the school-based efforts, most of the programs go beyond the school's context through training from parents, after-school programs and community-based organizations (Weissberg, 2015). The members of the society, parents, and instructors all agree that aside from the core objectives of education, it is ensured that students eventually become culturally literate, lifelong and intellectually reflective learners. It is also considered that learners should be taught how to respectfully interact in socially skilled ways with their age mates, families and society at large (Whitty, 2017).
There is a unanimous agreement that the conditions of life of children has drastically changed over the past few years, and families nowadays face heightened socio-economic pressures (Oakes, 2015) thus introducing the students to a highly complicated world through the media and they also have unregulated access to information through socializing using the different technological devices available.
In conclusion, a curriculum should consider all aspects of a student's life and cater to all of them. Schools have a duty to prepare the learners for life after school especially in these tough social and economic times, they have to be appropriately equipped with the skillset to combat everyday challenges and how to relate respectfully with their family members, peers, and community members.
Boydston, J. A. (Ed.). (2008). The Collected Works of John Dewey, Index: 1882-1953. SIU Press.
Weissberg, R. P., Durlak, J. A., Domitrovich, C. E., & Gullotta, T. P. (2015). Social and emotional learning: Past, present, and future.
Oakes, J., Quartz, K. H., Ryan, S., & Lipton, M. (2015). Becoming good American schools: The struggle for civic virtue in education reform. The Phi Delta Kappan, 81(8), 568-575.
Romiszowski, A. J. (2016). Designing instructional systems: Decision making in course planning and curriculum design. Routledge.
Ary, D., Jacobs, L. C., Irvine, C. K. S., & Walker, D. (2018). Introduction to research in education. Cengage Learning.
Meyer, J. W., Kamens, D., & Benavot, A. (2017). School knowledge for the masses: World models and national primary curricular categories in the twentieth century. Routledge.
Whitty, G. (2017). Sociology and school knowledge: Curriculum theory, research and politics. Routledge.
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