mandag 8. februar 2016

Curriculum changes - Welcome or not?

Some would argue that teachers are probably the most adaptable profession that exists. We twist and turn to meet expectations of students, parents, leadership and changing political views on how a good school is supposed to look like.

A national curriculum change is one of the aspects teachers have to adjust and adapt to. New school research pop up all the time and politicians responsible for curricula tend to go with the latest wind.

I keep wondering if sometimes the changes are done for the purpose of changing rather than for the purpose of making the school better. The words are different but is the contents really that much different?

When words are concerned I share the same frustration as is presented in the article Læreplansjangeren ødelegger læreplanene , published in Aftenposten January 3, 2013. Parts of the curricula often contains so many words that the purpose and aims are difficult to grasp, even for teachers who’s work have to build on what’s written in these curricula. With the growing demand on parents to participate in and follow up schoolwork regarding purpose and aims, shouldn’t the curricula be written in a language that everyone could understand? Who are the curricula written for?

Curriculum changes that clearly and precisely describes what students should learn, in a language that can actually be understood, by others than the bureaucrats writing it, is most welcome!

5 kommentarer:

  1. I totally agree with you that curricula often contains words that are difficult to understand. Even though, we (the teachers) are having a hard time in understanding and “translating” the words and the meaning in the curricula, I believe that every community and every school have to make the curricula to their own “working tool”. I also believe that teachers are given a fantastic opportunity in figuring out how to teach their children and which books they would like to use, as long as they are reaching the goals of the curricula.
    I don`t believe that the curricula is for the parents to read and understand. The curricula is for the teachers and they have to make it understandable for themselves and for the parents.
    Another important issue is that the society is in a constant change and the school is one of the agencies that needs to pay attention to these changes. I believe that the curricula needs to be in a constant development because of this.

  2. During my years working as a teacher I have after the introduction of Kunnskapsløftet been a witness to colleges frustration with the content in the curriculum. Changes in the curricula are necessary but it should lead to a positive change. One of the main purposes with the changes made in the curriculum by Kunnskapsløftet was to equalize the social differences among pupils in school. According to an article in Aftenposten from 2012, the result of the changes has led to the opposite. The number of pupils graduating from lower secondary school with top grades has increased but so has the number of pupils with no grades in every subject. Many teachers find the ambitions of the curricula to be excessively big for many students which results in special needs education for them. This makes a gap in knowledge among the pupils.
    The curriculum is a tool for the teachers to make the education as effective and functional as possible and to reach the competence aims. They are educated and should be used to the vocabulary and terminology used in the curriculum and therefore have better assumptions of understanding the content. It would be an advantage if the curriculum were a document linguistic suited for the parents and even the students. I am sure it would be positive for the cooperation between parents and teachers if both parts truly understood the content of the curriculum, but I truly believe that a simplified edition that would be more suitable for parents had to be published.

  3. I agree with both of you that The Knowledge Promotion needs to change according to research that constantly done to how students learn and according to changes in society in general. However, I still believe that sometimes changes are done because politicians end up in a kind of state of panic as they read results from PISA and similar surveys. I think changes in curricula must be allowed to work. It takes time to change a school system and results of changes might come after years of changed teaching.

    As for the language in the curriculum; in my school parents are advised to read and know the compentence aims that their children should reach. If there are complaints or discussions about the contents of what the students are Learning, we refer to the Knowledge Promotion. That usually ends the discussions, because very few of the parents find themselves capable of saying that what we do doesn't apply to the aims. But to have a fruitful cooperation I believe that everyone that by work or by blood takes a part in a pupil's life and education should know and understand what the child/youth actually has to learn.

  4. How to assess the effectiveness of the curriculum?
    There are two factors that need to be considered. The first is the ability of the teacher and how she/he teaches the students. The curriculum provides and outline and structure of what is required, but the teacher get to achieve this using their own teaching methods and style. As we know, there is a huge range of methods and teachers.
    The second factor is the influence of where in the social structure the class of students come from. Some students don`t have many resources at home, like access to computers or parents who are unable or unwilling to help. Many refugees family are unable to help their children because of their lack of understanding, communication and language challenges.
    These two factors will affect the final outcome of the student`s result. No matter how good the teachers are, following the curriculum and the changes that come and go, the second factor will always be a challenge.

  5. We must strive to have equality in Norwegian schools. It should not matter if a pupil goes to one school or another what the subjects contains. The differences between parents will always be huge, either they understand the content of the curriculum or they cannot or if they really want to help their children with their schoolwork or not. The curriculum should be formulated in a understandable way for most people but I am afraid a major group never will understand. Firstly teacher must feel the curriculum is a document they can use to do their job as good as possible. Secondly it should be a document that secures equality among schools. Pupils learning outcome should not be dependent if he or she goes to this shcool or another. I think a key to solve the problems with equality is cooperation. Increased cooperation between teachers in a school and also cooperation between schools. It is a massive job but I believe it is the only way to make frustrated teacher less frustrated or even not frustrated. "And that is what I have to say about that" (Forrest Gump)