Response to September 16th Reading

Smith’s article opens by addressing the key features of curriculum as referring to schooling with an appreciation for subjects and lessons and that it specifies our goal by planning and guiding learning. It then goes on to outline Aristotle’s categorization of knowledge. This categorization splits into the four models of curriculum. Aristotle’s categories are the Theoretical (syllabus), the Practical (process and praxis), and the Productive (product).

1.Curriculum as Syllabus to be Transmitted

This model is what connects course outlines  to a final examination that determines if what has been presented in the syllabus has been learnt. A downfall to this model is that the syllabus rarely indicates the importance of topics or the order in which they are presented and studied. Instead, the main concern is the content, which is what students are quizzed on. A benefit for the syllabus model is that the most effective methods of delivery are determined and used to transmit and teach students. Planning becomes limited which can be seen as either a benefit or downfall because it decreases the time teachers are required to spend developing their teaching techniques however they do not necessarily improve through trial and error.

2. Curriculum as Product

In this model, education is seen as a technical exercise with set objectives, plans created and applied, and outcomes measured as products. This model also involves detailed attention to what is needed knowledge to work and live our lives. This means that there is a major focus on the practical elements within teaching. A downfall to the product model is that there is no social vision or programme to guide curriculum construction. As a result, curriculum does not grow. Another flaw is that in this model students work towards one final end goal or objective. This reminds me of the reading from last week  in how the students in Nepal were focused on passing a final exam. This takes away from the process of learning and can, in my experience, lead to students forgetting what has been taught after this end goal has been achieved. Continuing with reference to the reading from last week, there was mention of how the students would not interact with the teacher in class. THis is another detail about the product method that can be a problem. Instead of interacting with the learning, success is based on whether pre-specified changes occur to the behaviour of the learner. In this model, trivial elements are judged rather than the bigger picture. This can be a benefit because it helps students organize what they are learning and shows the systematic qualities of this model. Finally, this model’s theory and practice is taken from technological and industrial settings that have a product in the end. This is the approach taken in this model.

3.Curriculum as Process

The Curriculum as Process model mirrors what actually happens in the classroom with the interaction of teachers, students, and knowledge. Again in this model, there is a heavy importance placed on examinations which limits variation. As with any model that includes standardized testing, this is negative in the fact that many students succeed in different ways and that one way of testing may not adequately show the learning that each individual has achieved. This model’s main downfall, teacher quality, is also its main benefit. If a teacher is dedicated on improving their techniques and strategies this model works well. If a teacher is not doing these things the students would struggle to learn what they should be. In an attempt to overcome this problem there have been materials to focus on some of the elements of learning and discovery needed.

4. Curriculum as Praxis

The Curriculum as Praxis model is very similar to the Curriculum as Process model but in addition it considers human well-being and makes a commitment to having a focus on this in the curriculum. What I consider to be the biggest benefit to this model is that the curriculum develops through the interaction of action and reflection. This allows teachers to see what does and does not work and adjust their teaching to these outcomes. What is described as a drawback is that there is not a strong enough emphasis on context in the curriculum. Overall, however, I see this as being the best model of looking at the curriculum because it is more action based and therefore committed to improving.

In my own experience I have had an assortment of these four models present in the teaching I have received. I think that the most prominent, however, was the Curriculum as Product approach. Growing up I always looked towards the next test that I had to study for and learn material on and I definitely noticed that some of the past things I had learned left soon after that test was finished. This was common for most of my classmates too. In a few classes I can remember the Curriculum as Process model being very obvious too. I have seen how quality of teachers has had an impact on this as well and this is what I consider to be one of the reasons I did not enjoy or connect with my high school history classes as much as students in other schools did. I think the teachers I had for these classes did not have enthusiasm towards these subjects and so they relied heavily on reading textbooks and answering questions in them following a chapter.

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